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Steel-toe boots: Safety equipment or liability?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2019 | Workers' Compensation

Every occupation has specific equipment that is needed to do the respective jobs safely. For some, steel-toe boots are essential, but some people falsely believe that these specialty shoes are also a liability. It is imperative that all people who work in a setting where these boots are necessary understand just how important they are and how minimal the risks are.

The television series Mythbusters did a full episode to try to prove the statement going around that steel-toe boots can actually cause amputations and that they are more unsafe than regular shoes. To be clear, the myth was busted and the episode proved that steel-toe boots help to keep workers safer.

Don’t skimp on safety

Workplaces that have known risks, such as heavy falling objects or sparks and flames, should require that workers have steel-toe boots. The other options would be having them work in regular shoes or barefoot, both of which provide no protection from those hazards. Unfortunately, some workers try to skirt around the rules, but they are impacting their own safety by doing this. It must be clear that steel-toe boots are required in many settings, such as industrial businesses.

Steel-toe boots weren’t always the norm

Steel-toe boots didn’t enter any industry until the start of the 20th century. Before that, it was believed that workers were cheaper to replace than the cost of implementing a safety standard. At that point, the country started paying attention to industrial safety. In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was put into place, and many new safety standards came with it.

Keeping up with current demands

Some workers think that steel-toe boots will be uncomfortable, but the industry has worked to ensure that they are keeping up with the comfort trends. Still, the main priority is keeping the 26 bones in each foot protected.

These boots don’t protect the feet from only crushing injuries. They also provide protection against punctures and heat-related injuries, such as burns from flying sparks. The boots have other properties that help to prevent injuries, such as foot sprains.

While an amputation is highly unlikely, workers can face some injuries despite wearing steel-toe boots. If this occurs, workers’ compensation should go into effect to pick up the cost of necessary medical bills and possibly wage replacement for workers who are seriously injured and can’t return to work right away.