Canadian Occupational Safety

May/June 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 35

22 F E A T U R E higher the cost, the better the fit and comfort are likely to be. 7. Do safety shoes expire? There is no expiry date on safety boots. The lifespan of boots will primarily be determined by the worksite: Someone working around harsh chemicals, for example, will find their boots break down quickly. When safety boots are getting worn, the bottoms start to get smooth; the inside linings break down (in part due to sweat); the leather develops cracks. Damaged footwear should be repaired or replaced. Owners should inspect their safety boots regularly, White says. "Look at the soles to see if they are worn or have cracks. That's a cause of concern because they won't be able to grip a surface as well. Also, look at the condition of the material. It can't be worn. There can't be holes in them on the sides, such as cracks and cuts — wear and tear like that. And the material over the toe part has to be covering the toe. It can't be worn and bare." Q 8. Do visitors need to wear safety shoes? A Where a hazard assessment has established that safety boots need to be worn in a work site, then the footwear must be worn even for brief visits into the area. For example, politicians or VIPs attending a publicity event at such a work site need to put on safety shoes. If safety footwear is provided for occasional use, these must be cleaned and sanitized before offered to the next wearer. Q 9. Can safety shoes damage your feet? A Safety shoes sometimes cause problems for workers' feet. These difficulties usually occur when the shoes are poor quality or were incorrectly fitted in the first place, Hill says. "If boots are too tight and toes are touching a steel toecap, it will be extremely painful, and the wearer may get cuts or corns. If the boots are too big, the worker will be flopping around in them; the boots will not provide proper support, and the worker may be more vulnerable to twisting an ankle," he says. "A badly fitting pair of boots can put your skeleton structure a bit out of balance and that can contribute to back and knee pain over the long term." Violi says safety footwear is constantly evolving. Manufacturers are finding new ways to make the shoes easier on the feet. "Different compounds are being used to make shoes lighter and more comfortable. There's more cushioning support, better slip resistance. Instead of using steel, safety shoes often use composite materials such as non-steel toe caps or woven puncture-resistant sole plates," he says. "It's not just about meeting the CSA standards, it's also about giving the wearer a better-fitting and more comfortable safety shoe, a shoe that you can wear eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week and not feel fatigued in." Q 10. What needs to be done to take care of them? A Applying a wax, oil or spray coating to footwear will make them water-resistant and help them last longer, says Hill. "Workers should condition the leather on a regular basis to keep it softer and supple. And let the boots air out each night, so the moisture that's built up during the day can dry out overnight. That increases the lifespan of the insides." Following the manufacturer's instructions for proper storage, cleaning and care will help workers maintain the effectiveness and extend the lifespan of their safety boots. indicates metatarsal protection. (Industrial work where heavy objects can hurt the foot's metatarsal region.) • White label with green fir tree: indicates protection when using chainsaws. (Forestry workers and others who work with or around hand-held chainsaws and other cutting tools.) • Slip-resistance: Slip-resistance footwear has a marking indicating level of slip resistance on the packaging, a label on the footwear or on a product sheet. Two grades of toe impact resistance are referred to in these markings, Violi says. "Grade 1 is the highest level of toe impact protection: The toecap is designed to withstand 125 joules of energy. Grade 2 is a lesser standard: The toecap can withstand 90 joules of energy." "But, today, what you find is that all manufacturers have gravitated to the highest level of protection, so it's unusual today to find a Grade 2 toecap on the market," he adds. The high visibility of the markings makes them useful for safety managers, Violi says, allowing them to see at a glance whether a worker is wearing the shoes that have been selected for that workplace. 5. Who pays for it? Safety boots can range from less than $100 to more than $300. Whether the employer or the worker pays for them and how much a worker pays depends on the company, White says. In unionized workplaces, workers will often get an annual subsidy to cover the cost of protective equipment including footwear. "Through a collective bargaining agreement with their workers, the employers give them the amount they're entitled to. It's sometimes called a boot fund. They will give them maybe $250 for a pair of safety footwear for the year." Some employers, without an agreement, will give their workers a certain amount for boots. Others may negotiate purchasing agreements with safety supply stores that provide workers with a discount. Then there are companies that require workers to pay the full price of the boots. "They make the purchase of the boots a condition of employment; if you're going to work here, you have to come to work with a pair of safety footwear. The companies don't buy them," White says. Q 6. How should safety boots fit? A Boots should fit properly and be comfortable. For proper fit, the foot must be measured, Hill says. There should be enough room for the toes to move freely. "You want your toes to be able to wiggle around freely, not touching the cap. Yet, you also want the rest of the boot to fit snugly. Snugly is the word we like to use, not tight but snug. As you wear the boots, over the first couple of weeks, the inside lining and the boot tend to mould to your own feet, and the boots will become more comfortable." Because feet swell during the day, the best time for fitting shoes is midday. Always allow space for work socks or arch supports. The user should walk in and flex the footwear to ensure a proper fit. Price is generally indicative of quality: The "Workers should condition the leather on a regular basis to keep it softer and supple. And let the boots air out each night, so the moisture that's built up during the day can dry out overnight." Graeme Hill, owner and operator of Reddhart Workwear Stores A Q COMFORT: A FEW HELPFUL HINTS Avoid models that are too narrow or too wide. Shoes must be adapted to the shape and size of your feet to avoid painful pinching. Avoid models having toe caps that are too low or too narrow. If you can feel the toe caps with your toes, wearing your shoes will become unbearable after a certain amount of time. Buy shoes that have little or no decorative strips or seams. Make sure that they are CSA-approved safety shoes and not just a novelty product. Source: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada 1 2 3 4 A Q

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Occupational Safety - May/June 2020