Choosing Workplace Footwear

Safety in the workplace is a prime consideration for any employer, so it is important to be aware of relevant legislation to ensure your workers are protected.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) at work

As an employer, you must meet the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended). The legislation includes an obligation to provide equipment that protects the user’s health and safety in the workplace. That will include, where appropriate, high-visibility clothing, safety helmets, hard hats and safety footwear, eye protection and gloves.

Risk assessments should be carried out regularly to ensure your employees are properly equipped and protected when in the workplace.

The right type of footwear for your employees will depend on what jobs they do and the environment in which the work is carried out. Feet can often be at risk in the workplace, so the appropriate workplace footwear is an essential part of PPE.

An employee’s feet can suffer in his or her daily working life, especially if wrongly fitting footwear is worn or standing for lengthy periods is involved. Besides dealing with pain or stress caused to their feet and legs, employees can also face slip hazards, so a risk assessment should include areas where this could occur.

Safety standards

When selecting safety footwear, you should bear in mind that your choice of product needs to be appropriate for the tasks to be carried out by the wearer. All protective equipment, including shoes that you provide as an employer, must meet European standards. That includes occupational footwear, protective footwear and safety footwear. You should also check that safety footwear is slip resistant, as this is not currently covered by European standards.

Environments where safety footwear is necessary

Many work sites, especially in the construction industry, have falling object hazards that can cause injury. Safety footwear with metal toecaps helps prevent toes being crushed upon impact with a heavy object. A strong midsole can also protect feet against being pierced by objects underfoot. Safety shoes or boots are essential when working in such environments.

Working in an area where spillages occur can be very dangerous and employees can easily slip. This often causes severe bruising or even a limb can be broken or serious damage to the spine can occur; so good quality safety shoes with slip resistance will help mitigate the problem. As it’s almost impossible to prevent spillages in some factory environments, workers should be well protected from the possible consequences of slipping and falling.

Using steel-toe safety Wellingtons made of materials resistant to oils, acid, alkali and fats can significantly reduce the slip hazard and are particularly suited for use by employees in the food industry.

Keeping the workforce safe

It’s vital that you keep your workforce as safe as possible and provide the relevant PPE for employees to do their jobs without having to worry about their safety. If you’re not sure about what is most appropriate for your workplace, contact us at Seton or fill out our Ask the Expert form.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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