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Safety Footwear

Home > Safety & Workwear > Safety Footwear
 
Most organizations understand that the first step in workplace safety is to remove potential hazards. For this personal safety equipment may be required to help reduce injuries sustained in the workplace.

The most well known and widely followed standard for safety footwear is the one created by the International Organization for Standardization known as ISO 20345 in 2004.

Basic safety boots are defined by this standard as having protection for the toes and an anti-slip sole.
With this, the toes are protected from hazards such as nails or other sharp objects puncturing the shoe and from being crushed by heavy objects rolling over or landing on them. The anti-slip sole helps prevent accidents caused by slippery conditions such as small oil patches on the floor in a mechanic's garage.

The standard then divides shoes into two classes:
  • non-polymers, such as leather, and polymers, such as rubber or Gore-tex. They are then designated by the level of additional protection between S1 and S5.
  • Levels S1 - S3 cover non-polymer shoe
  • S4 and S5 cover those made of polymers.

Levels S1 and S4 add a protected and energy absorbing heel and some antistatic properties to the basic safety boot. Heel protection further protects the foot from punctures and crushing forces, and would be needed in factories or on construction sites. The energy absorption provides comfort and helps to protect the wearer from injury caused by the foot impacting on a hard surface like a factory floor. The antistatic properties are generally for environments where a spark could be dangerous, where employees work around explosive gasses or other materials.

Level S2 covers: water resistance or water proofing. This is important for anyone working in wet environments, or places where liquid chemicals can be present. This requirement is part of the basic standard for polymer shoes, so this applies only to non-polymer shoes.

Levels S3 and S5 covers: have all properties of S1, S2 and S4. They add the protection of metal insoles and studded soles. The metal insoles provide additional puncture protection for the bottom of the foot, which can be very important at some construction sites and demolition sites. The studded soles provide slip-resistance in extreme conditions, such as ice, which could be encountered by workers such as firefighters working in subfreezing temperatures.

There are other safety features defined in this standard as well, such as heat, cold, and electrical resistance. However, understanding the basic protections as outlined above should be sufficient for a company to understand the level of protection employees will need.
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