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What Are Safety Shoes & What Are They Used For?

A pair of safety shoes (also known as safety shoes) is personal protective equipment (PPE) for protecting feet in workplaces. Prevents foot injury from slippery surfaces, heavy falling or rolling objects, sharp edges, pinch points, rotating machinery, hot objects, tight rope loops, splinters, electricity, chemicals, or even bad weather, etc. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employees wear safety shoes when working in areas where there is a risk of injury to the feet. Safety shoes come in a variety of styles, both formal and informal. However, workers need reliable and durable work shoes for their safety. Traditional safety shoes have a steel toe box, but they can also be made from composite materials such as thermoplastics and aluminum.

The following are examples of work environments where the use of safety shoes is mandatory:

  • Working with heavy objects or tools that may fall (impact-resistant);

  • Handling pipes, tree trunks, stones, windows, wheels, or other round objects that can tip over on their feet;

  • Hazardous Material Handling (HAZMAT);

  • Work with sharp tools such as knives, axes, nails, scrap metal, glass, etc;

  • Working with current-carrying or de-energized electric cables;

  • Working on a floor that can generate static electricity;

How are shoes selected?

Shoes should be chosen according to the hazards involved. Assess the workplace and labor activity for:

  • materials that an employee works with or uses;

  • danger of falling objects on the legs or hitting them;

  • any material or equipment that can roll over your feet;

  • any sharp or pointed object that could cut the top of the foot;

  • objects that can penetrate the bottom or side of the foot;

  • explosive atmosphere possible, including the risk of static electrical discharges;

  • type of walking surface and environmental conditions;

In addition, consider the following risks:

  • an ankle injury due to uneven walking or rough terrain;

  • foot injury due to exposure to extreme heat or cold;

  • slips and falls on slippery walking surfaces;

  • exposure to water or other liquids that can penetrate shoes and damage the foot and shoes;

  • exposure to rotating or abrasive machinery (such as chainsaws or grinders);

What should I know about fitting and caring for safety shoes?

Try on new shoes around noon. The legs usually swell during the day. Wear new shoes to make sure they are comfortable. The boots should have enough room for the toes (the toes should be about 12.5 mm in front). Don't expect shoes to stretch when worn.

When buying boots, make allowances for extra socks or special insoles. Try on new boots with supports or socks that you normally wear to work. Check with the manufacturer to see if adding inserts will affect your level of protection.

Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced. Fully lace up your boots. High-cut boots provide protection against ankle injuries.


  • Use a protective coating to make your shoes waterproof.

  • Check your shoes regularly for damage (such as cracked soles, torn leather, or exposed toes).

  • Repair or replace worn or defective shoes.

  • The resistance of footwear to electric shock is reduced in wet conditions and with wear.

Shoes that have been penetrated or impacted by the sole may not show visible signs of damage. It is advisable to change shoes after the event.

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