Foot Protection

Originally published 01/10/2017

In construction, we typically spend more than 10 hours a day on our feet. We walk on uneven surfaces, through mud, water, ice and snow, and expose our feet to all kinds of hazards. A work boot that doesn’t fit properly or doesn’t provide the protection you need can cause you long-term problems.

Foot protection means guarding your toes, ankles and feet from injury. Each foot has 26 bones for support and 38 joints for movement, along with blood vessels, ligaments, muscles and nerves. Protective footwear is designed to protect your feet from physical hazards such as falling objects, stepping on sharp objects, heat, cold, wet and slippery surfaces or exposure to corrosive chemicals.

Here are some tips for selecting the proper work boot:

  • Select a work boot that will protect you against the hazards you’ll be exposed to. Make sure the boot is puncture resistant and provides ankle support to protect against ankle sprains from slips and falls.
  • If you’ll be working around heavy objects that could possibly crush your foot, select boots with steel or non-metallic protective toe caps. Work boots can also protect your feet against weld spatter, electric shock, water, cold, etc.
  • Make sure your boots meet the ANSI Z41“American National Standard for Personal Protection-Protective Footwear (which should be noted on the boot tongue, sole or upper part of the boot). OSHA requires that work boots meet this standard.
  • Make sure the work boot fits properly.
    • Work boots should feel comfortable from the first moment you wear them.
    • Measure both feet when being fitted. Often you will find your left and right foot aren’t the same size, so select a size that fits the larger foot.
    • It’s important to try the boots on in the afternoon after you’ve been walking for a while, because your feet swell as the day wears on.
    • When trying on boots, make sure you are wearing the same kind of socks you typically wear to work.
  • When putting your boots on, lace them up fully and snugly for proper fit and support.

Don’t shortchange your foot protection. Buy work boots that will provide your feet with the protection you need and will be comfortable to wear all day.

Download the recording form here.

Mud Safety — Part 1

April is the month for rain showers — and mud. Mud is a major contributor to many safety issues that lead to severe work-site accidents and injuries. All mud is slippery; the higher the clay content of the soil, the slipperier the mud. It sticks to the bottom of boots and tires and transforms any surface it touches into a potential slip hazard. Every year, dozens of falls occur because workers slip off of ladder rungs, equipment and walk surfaces as they attempt to climb or walk while wearing muddy boots. Driving accidents occur when muddy boots slip off the brake or accelerator pedals, causing the driver to lose control.

Mud is impossible to eliminate; however, if you follow the guidelines below, your work environments will be cleaner and safer during the rainy season.

  • Lay down gravel or geo cloth to protect walkways and keep mud from forming.
  • Use boot brushes or other means to clean off your boots before walking on smooth surfaces where you might slip.
  • Maintain drainage on job sites and roads, so water doesn’t pool in low areas, forming mud puddles.
  • Always clean mud from your boots before you climb on anything.
  • Clean tool handles prior to storage.
  • Keep material staging areas well drained, and stack material using cribbage so that it is up off the ground.
  • Position portable toilets on higher, well-drained ground, so workers don’t have to walk through pools of mud to reach them.
  • Provide sufficient dunnage for cranes and other equipment, so they are working on stable surfaces.