Tag Archives: shoe covers


If your feet hurt, it seems that you hurt all over!  I wonder just how many women have spent years of their working lives in high heels, thinking more about the fashion statement they are making than the toll that their feet are taking?  Many times working men and women suffer injuries to their feet, which can result in time lost, and possible surgery to repair whatever damage has been done. 

OSHA dictates that as in all personal protective equipment, (PPE), companies should choose the appropriate footwear for the hazards of the particular job the employee does.  The standard from OSHA (29 CFR 1910.136) requires protection “where there is danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole and where..exposed to electrical hazards.”  There are also hazards such as impact when heavy materials are being handled, compression protection for work involving manual material handling carts, bulk rolls, and heavy pipe, and puncture protection from sharp objects, such as nails, screws, tacks, and scrap metal.  

Here are a few problems where the feet are at risk:

  • Chemical hazards; boots and shoes made of rubber, PVC or neoprene are needed.
  • Heavy objects – steel toes are to protect against falling objects, which cause about 60 per cent of all foot injuries.  If there are electrical hazards, a fiberglass toe should replace the typical steel toe.
  • Slips and falls – shoes with good traction are needed. 

There are at least two distinct areas of foot protection that are mentioned in the realm of safety shoe covers.  In industrial and construction situations, OSHA and ANSI are concerned with safeguarding the “impact and compression” of the foot.  Medical, industrial, and laboratory environments are the other areas of foot protection issues.  Shoe covers for medical personnel can protect from spatters, liquid, and chemicals that could pose a danger.  Also, using shoe or boot covers protects others from receiving contaminants from you.  Those that are involved in “clean” manufacturing conditions, such as computer chips, digital medical equipment, precise engineering instruments, etc., must be careful to not transfer contaminants to sensitive objects.  Clean rooms must remain as germ and contaminant free as surgical environments; therefore, shoe covers are an important component. 

Even those involved in sports, such as cycling, can use shoe covers.  While your back, arms, and legs are stressed during high level cycling, nothing takes a worse pounding than your feet.  There are products that offer a line of covers and booties to protect shoes from road abuse from rocks, mud, and other hazards. 

One last “footnote”:  I recently read an article in the AARP Bulletin, written by Candy Sagon, regarding assisting people with dementia or Alzheimer’s who could possibly wander off from caregivers or nursing facilities: a locator shoe with a built-in Global Positioning System device now makes it easier to tract down its wearers.  Manufactured by GTX Corporation, the shoes look like a typical walking shoe but have a miniature GPS unit implanted in the heel.  The cost of the shoes is around $300.  The shoe works by allowing caregivers or family members to set up a perimeter, called a “geo-fence,” allowing wearers to move freely around a specific area.  When they stray beyond the perimeter, a Goggle Maps message pops up on a computer or phone to alert caregivers.  What a great investment to help with the task of keeping these patients safe. 

Regardless of the reason that your company has safety footwear to keep you safe, be sure you wear it every time you are on the job.  Those responsible for choosing footwear or any other type of PPE should select comfortable, and proper fitting protective clothing, head to toe.  There may not be a magic formula for the feet, but there are steps that can be followed to be sure feet are protected.

Source: OSHA, AARP Bulletin


Every year, OSHA cites a handful of companies for violations of its foot protection standard, but about 200,000 workers experience toe or foot injuries annually, as reported by the National Safety Council.  OSHA’s personal protective equipment (PPE) standard dealing with footwear (29 CFR 1910.136) requires protection “where there is danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole and where exposed to electrical hazards.”  Part of the problem is that employers and employees may not know how to select the proper foot protection. 

Employers should go beyond OSHA’s sketchy guidelines, according to Michael Ziskin, a consultant who specializes in PPE in industry and on hazardous waste sites.  Ziskin, Chairman of the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Protective Clothing and Equipment Committee, states, “The more you know about the limitations of the products, the less you know about how they will perform in specific work situations.”  It’s up to employers to determine how the products will be used and how effective they will be for the tasks.  Foot-related risks can include everything from chemical hazards and heavy objects to slippery or uneven surfaces that can cause slips and falls. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 329,000 lost workdays from slips and falls in 1994.  This proved the need for shoes that provide good traction.  When working in the healthcare or chemical industries, boots and shoes made of rubber, PVC, or neoprene (depending on the chemical) are needed.  Needless to say, if you’ve been in a hospital, you see all types of workers – doctors, nurses, lab techs, etc. wearing those funny looking shoe covers.  They protect everyone – you, the patients, the surroundings, and objects that may be touched.  Medical personnel are also able to protect themselves against splatters, liquids, and chemicals that may be dangerous.   

In industrial settings, steel-toed boots are a must.  They protect the foot from impact and compression injuries; sixty per cent of all foot injuries are caused by falling objects.  If there are electrical hazards, a fiberglass toe should replace a typical steel toe.  Plastic shoe covers protect the shoes in dirty work environments. 

Having a successful foot protection program depends on the employer doing their homework on assessing all of the hazards involved in the workplace, and using engineering controls, work practices, and providing the proper safety footwear.  Workers should also be trained to mark spills until they can be cleaned up.  They should ensure that the footwear is comfortable; otherwise, it might not be worn.  Take the “right steps” to see that everyone walks away from the job safely at the end of the day!