Personal Protective Equipment

If the Protective Shoe Fits, They’ll Wear It

In yesterday’s Advisor, we reviewed OSHA’s foot protection requirements, and particularly the not-so-simple question of who is required to pay for it (generally the employers, but with certain notable exceptions). Today we move on to the proper selection and fit of foot protection, and we’ll look at a tool that helps you satisfy OSHA’s stringent foot protection – and other PPE — training requirements.

Once you have identified the proper foot protection for a task, it is essential that it fit properly. Ill-fitting footwear can create problems of its own. For one thing, employees will be less likely to wear poorly fitting shoes or boots, putting themselves — and your organization — at risk. For another, a bad fit can result in calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, flat feet, and various other foot problems.

A foot protection booklet produced by the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers’ Compensation offers these tips on getting a good fit:

  • The inner side of the shoe must be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.

  • The shoe must grip the heel firmly.

  • The forepart must allow freedom of movement for the toes.

  • The shoe must have a fastening across the instep to prevent the foot from slipping when walking.

  • The shoe must have a low, wide-based heel; flat shoes are recommended.

Looking to improve PPE use compliance? BLR’s Total Training Resource: PPE on CD brings a new approach. Try it at no cost or risk. Get more information.

In addition, the user should keep in mind:

  • Do not expect that footwear that is too tight will stretch with wear.

  • Have both feet measured when buying shoes. Feet normally differ in size.

  • Buy shoes to fit the bigger foot.

  • Buy shoes late in the afternoon when feet are likely to be swollen to their maximum size.

  • Ask a doctor’s advice if properly fitting shoes are not available.

  • Consider purchasing shock-absorbing insoles when a job requires walking or standing on hard floors.

As with any PPE, OSHA requires you to train your employees in the proper use of protective footwear. At a minimum your training must cover:

  • When PPE is called for

  • What PPE to use for particular hazards

  • How to put on, adjust, wear, and remove PPE properly

  • Any PPE limitations—and how long the equipment should last

  • How to care for, maintain, and dispose of PPE properly

OSHA is serious about this training. The standard states that workers can’t perform work requiring PPE until they demonstrate “an understanding” of what was learned “and the ability to use PPE properly.” Written certification must name each employee who meets those criteria. If employees don’t meet these criteria—or if changes in operations or PPE make the previous training out of date—you must provide retraining.

BLR’s Total Training Resource: PPE has proven to be a particularly effective PPE training tool by appealing to workers’ emotions.

As they take a self-directed and self-paced journey through 88 narrated slides, trainees are asked to imagine what it would be like to suffer the consequences of unsafe behavior. They’re asked to think about how an accident might affect their families. They’re asked to remember how their bare hands felt after contact with strong cleaning agents or how their hearing was muffled after exposure to loud sounds. And, in the case of vision hazards, the screen actually goes blurry and dark for a moment, to reinforce the point that vision is both fragile and priceless.

The message is enhanced by a second tool adopted from learning experts: interactivity.

Educators know that the more a trainee interacts with material, the more he or she is drawn into it. Each slide, therefore, includes some form of action. Full-color photos and copy move on the screen. Trainees drag and drop material in answer to questions. In an exercise on donning and doffing safety gear, trainees actually dress and remove the parts of a Level 3 protective suit, one at a time, to learn the correct order in doing so.

Try BLR’s Total Training Resource: PPE on CD at no cost or risk. Get the details.

The specific types of PPE covered are those for:

–Eye protection
–Hearing protection
–Hand and body protection
–Foot protection
–Respiratory safety
–Head protection
–Electrical safety

Also on the program CD is a full catalog of reproducible supplementary materials, from training sign-up sheet, to quiz, to trainee completion certificate, and for group use, a bonus 28-slide PowerPoint® on PPE selection and use.

Safety Daily Advisor has arranged for its subscribers to evaluate the program for up to 30 days at no cost or risk. Just let us know and we’ll set things up.