Work safety shoes: keep your feet safe

Workplace safety is important especially when it comes to your feet. Every province in Canada requires workers to wear CSA-certified protective footwear certified. Most safety shoes offer physical protection for your toes and feet (metatarsal protection) and may have extra features such as electric-shock resistant and slip resistant soles.


It’s the law

The Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (SOR/86-304) require employers to ensure employees have the right protective footwear:

“If there is a risk of foot injury or electric shock in a work place, the employer must ensure that protective footwear that meets the requirements set out in CSA Group Standard Z195, Protective footwear is worn … If there is a risk of injury due to slipping in a work place, the employer must ensure that slip-resistant footwear is worn.”

It’s therefore quite a shocking statistic that 25% of all workplace foot injuries in Canada are caused by workers not wearing the proper protective footwear.


Common work-related foot injuries

According to the Canadian Centre or Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), the most common work foot injuries include:

  • Impact
  • Compression
  • Puncture
  • Slip and trip-related strains, tears and twists

CCOHS also list other potential foot problems at work including:

  • Aching feet
  • Blisters
  • Calluses, corns and bunions
  • Rheumatism and arthritis
  • Malformations of toes
  • Fallen arches (flat feet)
  • Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)

Most of the above are caused by ill-fitting, uncomfortable work shoes, especially if you spend long hours standing on a hard surface such as a factory floor, warehouse or even retail.


Slip in comfort

The good news is that you can potentially prevent these problems before you even try on a single pair of work boots or shoes. Simply call us for a consultation to see if you would benefit from custom orthotics in your shoes.

These simple slip-in ‘soles’ are custom-moulded to fit your feet and correct any imbalance in your posture, gait (walking) and pronation (if your feet turn inwards or outwards). They provide specific support over and above what a safety shoe (or indeed any shoe) offers, and you can wear them in all your normal footwear, not just work boots.

Once you’ve got your custom orthotics (if required) you can simply slip them into new work safety shoes when you try them on, for a custom-fit in off the shelf footwear. Should your work boots be slightly different from your everyday shoes, you can have your orthotics posted (adjusted) by us to perfectly fit your boots, for daylong comfort. Many clients actually have two pairs of custom orthotics; one for their work safety boots, and one for every other item of footwear!


Do I need work safety footwear?

If your workplace is a place where regulations under the OHSA apply, your employer should have undertake a risk assessment to identify the appropriate foot protection required.

“A hazard involves the potential for a material or situation to cause harm. Risk is the probability, or chance, that the hazard will actually harm someone. “

Hazards that a risk assessment would look for include:

  • Loose materials you handle
  • Objects that might fall, roll, or drop on your feet
  • Exposure to corrosive, hot or irritant substances
  • Contact with energized conductors of electricity
  • Walking on slippery surfaces including floors and loose gravel

Working outdoors? Remember you also need to protect your feet against extremes of hot and cold, exposure to liquids that might soak into your footwear, walking on rough terrain or using rotating machinery.


Who buys my boots?

If they don’t provide safety footwear, an employer may offer you an annuals subsidy to buy protective equipment including footwear, often called a boot fund. They may also have a discount scheme where you can buy boots at a discount. Some may make it a condition of employment that you provide our own safety footwear at your own cost.

5 top tips for getting the best fitting work safety shoes

Work safety footwear is designed and built to protect, and they won’t ‘break in’ as less substantial fashion shoes will. Make sure you get the best fit first time . Here are our five tip tips for trying on new work safety footwear.

1. Take your orthotics with you

Always take your orthotics with you when trying on new footwear. Also consider about the kind of socks and/or hosiery you will be wearing in your shoes and take along both summer and winter socks, for example. The best time of day to try on any new shoes is around midday, as your feet will naturally swell during the day.

2. Wiggle your toes

When wearing safety shoes of any type, you should be able to move your toes without touching the toe cap.

3. Check the heel

You should be able to slide one finger down between the heel of the shoe and your foot. This is an indication that your new shoes have a snug, but not over-tight fit.

4. Look for the CSA symbols

All safety footwear should be approved by CSA for the work you do. If you don’t see a CSA mark, don’t buy it. For a full list of the marks see this article in The Safety Magazine.

5. Take care of your safety shoes

Most work shoes have a tough life, so take care of them. Always bring them into your home to dry out if they are wet – don’t leave them dirty and soggy in the back of your truck!. Clean as required and apply leather creams or approved waterproofing products to ensure they repel moisture and are kept supple. Replace them as soon as they show any signs of wear and tear especially dents in the toes, worn soles, seam/tread separation, and damaged stitching.


Want us to check your feet before buying work footwear?

Contact us for an appointment at one of our three Ontario footcare clinics:

Published On: June 30, 2023