If OSHA Made Safety Boots, What Would They Look Like?

Safety BootsOSHA, OSHA, OSHA…So many regulations, what are we to do? Simple. Follow them. No matter what we think, or what we hear, the bottom line is that OSHA regulations are in place to protect us on the job site. I mean, who really wants to lose their toes because they didn’t lace up the right safety boots in the morning? Seriously.

And that’s what I’d like to talk to you about. That is, how you can protect your feet on the job site by abiding by OSHA’s policies. Let’s take it a little further. If you’ve ever read some of OSHA’s policies regarding footwear, you will know that according to regulation 1910.136(a), “Each affected employee shall wear protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.

The thing is, for many of us, we have constantly changing work environments and work hazards. So why not just plan ahead and be ready for the worst,right? That’s why I wanted to go inside the mind of OSHA and see what they would do. Yup. If OSHA made a pair of safety boots, what would it look like. In this article, I am going to take the 4 biggest protective footwear concerns and:

  • Identify the OSHA regulations
  • Explain what they mean in laymen terms
  • Highlight protective footwear features that would meet those standards
  • Sum it all up by identifying a boot out there that encompasses it all

So, here we go…

Protective Toe (PT): Safety Toe Boots

Of course, when we think of OSHA footwear safety requirements, we think of the Safety Toe Boots. While this is not mandatory on all jobs, it is definitely a must if you are working in a place where you risk injury from a falling object. This is vaguely defined in OSHA’s “1926.96 – Occupational foot protection.” regulation. Really, they are looking for you to wear a boot that meets the “American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard for Men’s Safety-Toe Footwear, Z41.1-1967”. Essentially, the ANSI standard mandates that work boots meet or exceed a compression and an impact test. Typically, when you are looking for Safety Toe Boots, they will specify that the boots meet or exceed the ANSI standard. And of course, you will see the initials “PT” for Protective Toe.

Then, what options do you have? Steel Toe, Aluminum Toe, and Composite Toe. Steel Toe is the most common that you will find out there. It is super durable, however it is the heaviest of the options. Whereas the Aluminum and Composite Toe are much lighter than Steel, but they make the toe box pretty wide and somewhat clunky. Also, Aluminum and Composite Safety Toe Boots will be your go-to if you are looking for boots that don’t conduct electricity. So, there is a bit of a trade off there. Bottom line, as long as you get one of these that meet or exceed the ANSI standard you will be good to go.

Metatarsal Resistance (Mt): Metatarsal Guard Boots

WARNING: This video is both dramatic and impressive. It will get you  thinking about the importance of metatarsal guard boots.

So, do you want to get your hands on these boots? Check them out here: Justin’s 8″ Met Guard Boot with Composite Toe

The metatarsal bones are located on the top, middle of your foot. Just think about where the Protective Toe ends and the laces begin. That’s where they are located. So, if you are in a place with risk of any objects falling on your foot you should be looking into Metatarsal Guard Boots. After all, you are already spending the money to protect your toes anyway with the Protective Toe. But, if something falls higher on your foot you will be in a world of hurt. That’s why it is seriously important to have a Metatarsal Guard that complies with the metatarsal impact resistance standards F2412-05 ASTM.

metatarsal guard bootsThen what should you do? Well, there are two options. Get an add-on Metatarsal Guard or buy a new pair of Metatarsal Guard Boots that have a built-in guard. OK. Understandably, if you have a perfectly good pair of boots you may not be inclined to go out and buy a whole new pair of work boots with a built-in Metatarsal Guard. So, you can get an add-on which just straps onto your existing boot and provides all of the protection. I recommend the Kanga Tuff Met Guard Metatarsal Guard Safety Footwear Attachment By MidasG. Not only does it comply with the metatarsal impact resistance standards F2412-05 ASTM, but it can be attached with your laces or by using optional straps (for boots without laces).

Puncture Resistance (PR): Puncture Resistant Boots

Ever catch a flat tire because a nail jabbed straight into it? Well, the rubber on a tire isn’t too different from the rubber on a work boot. That is, of course, if you step on a nail or something sharp you can bet that it will penetrate through your boot into the bottom of your foot. OUCH! The thing is, there aren’t too many options for Puncture Resistant Boots to protect you in these situations. So, if this is a fear of yours, you need to find where it expressly states “PR” to ensure you are getting this type of Safety Boots.

Like the Metatarsal Guard, you are afforded two options to get this protection. The first is, to buy a pair of work boots that explicitly states that they are Puncture Resistant Boots. Again, I understand that you might not want to replace your existing boots just yet. So, the other option is to buy a pair of Puncture Resistant Insoles that you can put in the footbed underneath the insole or to use as the primary insole. The Puncture Resistant Insoles are typically made out of steel, and will make sure that things like nails, glass, and jagged rocks don’t penetrate through to your foot.

Puncture Resistant Boots

I recommend Impacto RHINOTUFFC Rhinotuff Puncture Resistant Insole, Yellow. They come in various sizes, have a cushioned top so you can use it as the primary insole and, most importantly, uses a stainless steel plate to protect against penetration from sharp objects. According to Impacto’s website it, “meets minimum force resistance of 270 lbs as specified in ASTM F2413.”

Electrical Hazard (EH): Electrical Hazard Boots

electrical hazard bootsAre you working on a job site or in a trade where you are exposed to Electrical Hazards? Then check this out. According to 1910.335(a)(1)(i), “Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.

How do you protect your feet from electrical shock? Sorry, in this case, there isn’t an add-on. What you will need is a pair of Electrical Hazard Boots. This type of footwear is manufactured with non-conductive electrical shock resistant soles and heels. The Workplace Safety Awareness Council deems that, “It must be capable of withstanding the application of 14,000 volts at 60 hertz for one minute with no current flow or leakage current in excess of 3.0 milliamperes, under dry conditions.

When shopping for Electrical Hazard Boots, simply look for the “EH” symbol on the boot or shoes to determine if it is in compliance with OSHA standards.

So, What Do These Safety Boots Look Like???

After doing all of the research and writing this article, I was pretty hard pressed to find a Safety Boot that included all four of these safety features. It seemed like all of the boots that I found with a Puncture Resistant Insole, did not have have a Metatarsal Guard. However, what I found is that the boots featuring a Metatarsal Guard almost always have a Protective Toe and are Electrical Hazard rated. So, the three Safety Boots below feature a Protective Toe, Metatarsal Guard and Electrical Hazard protection, and do not have a Puncture Resistant Insole. I’d recommend buying that pair of Puncture Resistant Insoles separately as an add-on to round out your protection. Now that you are armed with this information, take action and protect one of your most valuable assets, your feet.

The Ultimate Safety Boots Guide To Help Protect Your Feet

Brand Name Boot Material & ConstructionSafety Features Amazon Rating
Dr. Martens Men's Ironbridge MG ST Steel-Toe Met Guard Boot- Full Grain Leather
- Double Stitched Construction
- External Metatarsal Guard
- Steel Toe
- Electrical Hazard Protection
4.3 *
Timberland PRO Men's 40000 Met Guard 6' Steel Toe Boot- Ever-Guard Leather (Waterproof & Heat Resistant Up To 346 degrees)
- Goodyear Welt Construction
- External Metatarsal Guard
- Steel Toe
- Electrical Hazard Protection
- Slip-, Oil-, Abrasion-, and Heat-Resistant Sole
4.3 *
Keen Utility Men's Louisville 6-Inch Internal Met Work Boot- Waterproof Nubuck Leather & Synthetic
- Cement Construction
- Internal Metatarsal Guard
- Steel Toe
- Electrical Hazard Protection
- Slip-Resistant Sole
4.5 *

Boots Over Suits, Over and Out.

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