Your health and safety workplace footwear blueprint

Your health and safety workplace footwear blueprint

PPE from the ground up

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 states that:

Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work, except where, and to the extent that, such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

Thus, as an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) if a  health and safety risk assessment dictates. This includes suitable footwear if needed.

In this article, you’ll learn the why, where, when, who and what of safety footwear to help you build a health and safety workplace footwear checklist.

Why is safety footwear needed?

Safety footwear is needed to protect the feet of workers from hazards and risks that cannot be eliminated by other means. Like other PPE, safety footwear will not eliminate the risk, but does help to protect against it. An example would be wearing safety toe shoes, which protect against injury caused by a heavy object falling on the foot but do not eliminate the risk that it may happen.

Where is safety footwear needed?

Safety footwear may be needed in any environment in which there are hazards to the feet. Typically, this will include workplaces where people either work with or are in the proximity of hazards such as:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Electrical instruments
  • Sharp objects
  • Heavy objects
  • Heavy machinery

When is safety footwear needed?

Safety footwear is generally needed when people are exposed to any of the above hazards for extended periods of time. If the time spent working with a hazard is short and infrequent, then there may be less need for safety footwear. However, a conscientious employer is likely to still insist on safety footwear being worn – the decision should be made with regard to current health and safety regulations, costs and the results of a risk assessment.

Who should wear safety footwear?

Of course, who should wear safety footwear depends upon the work they do and the environment in which they work. For some employees, safety footwear may be considered to be part of the workplace ‘uniform’. Common roles that require safety footwear include:

  • Construction workers
  • Plumbers
  • Tilers
  • Roofers
  • Labourers and groundworkers
  • Electricians
  • Chefs
  • Etc.

What safety footwear should be worn?

The type of safety footwear that must be provided depends upon the work being done, the hazards encountered, and the risks involved. Safety footwear is made for each risk and environment, and provided with ratings to indicate their suitability. The rating system includes options to cover risks such as electricity, extreme temperatures and water. The rating system is as follows:


Metatarsal Protection


Ankle Protection


Cut Resistant Upper


Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper


Outsole Resistance to Hot Contact


Fuel Oil-Resistant Outsole

There are also ratings for safety footwear that offer multiple protection:


Antistatic, oil-resistant & energy absorption


Prevents water penetration


Midsole penetration resistance




Leak-proof with midsole penetration resistance

Tying it together

Feet are particularly susceptible to damage and injury. A risk assessment should include consideration of the hazards and risks posed by the environment in which employees are working, including the materials that workers are using in their job.

Finally, style may be important to normal, everyday footwear, but it is of little consequence in the workplace where risk of injury to feet is present. Practicality and safety must always come first.

To help you reap the benefits of good health and safety in the workplace, contact Sentry today and discover the online intelligent system that will help your business remain health and safety compliant with minimum effort.

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