Guide

Personal protective equipment

Types of PPE: footwear

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the feet can help reduce the risk of certain workplace hazards. 

Roles that need protective footwear

Workers in a range of roles may need protective footwear, including:

  • construction and building work
  • operation of mechanical equipment
  • work involving manual handling
  • work involving exposure to chemicals
  • work involving a risk of heavy items being dropped on the worker's feet
  • work in wet conditions especially if footwear needs to be washed and disinfected for hygiene reasons
  • work in a flammable atmosphere

For information about some of these roles, see safe manual handling at work.

Types of protective footwear 

Protective footwear you should consider includes:

  • safety boots or shoes, eg with steel toe-caps
  • safety wellington boots - for outside workers such as tree fellers or cattle herders

Check protective footwear is suitable for the job. Consider whether yu need:

  • footwear with slip-proof or chemical-resistant soles
  • entirely waterproof or insulated shoes or boots o protect against electrical hazards
  • steel toed footwear that has a midsole to protect against injury

Considerations

Where protective footwear is necessary, employers must provide it to employees free of charge. If you are self-employed, you must use PPE if you need it.

You will need to buy footwear to fit an individual so it makes sense to make employees partly responsible for maintenance.

This shouldn't replace a regular equipment check in the workplace but employees should be aware of the signs of wear and tear. See maintain personal protective equipment.

Maintenance of footwear should include:

  • regular cleaning
  • checking for worn-out soles
  • splits in the uppers
  • replacing broken or frayed shoelaces
  • making sure any protective covering is intact