Safety shoes are an essential piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those who work in hazardous electrical environments. They are designed to prevent electrocution in the event of accidental contact with live exposed electrical circuits, as well as resist heat, flames, and chemicals.
Safety shoes come in a variety of styles and offer different levels of protection, depending on the needs of the job and the potential hazards encountered.
When working in hazardous electrical environments, insulated rubber boots are the most common type of safety shoe used. They are constructed from durable rubber material and feature thick insulation that’s designed to keep electric current from entering your body. These safety shoes feature a heavy tread pattern to provide excellent grip and also include steel toes for extra toe protection.
For workers dealing with high temperatures, flame retardant safety shoes may be required. These are generally constructed from leather material that’s been treated to resist flames and keep workers safe from extreme heat. Flame retardant shoes also come with insulated soles, sometimes made from thick rubber or felt materials.
For workers who handle hazardous chemicals or liquids, chemical-resistant safety shoes may be necessary. These provide extra protection against hazardous substances and are usually constructed with composite material and protective coats of multi-component resins. Chemical-resistant safety shoes also include insulated rubber soles that protect against electrical shock.
In industrial settings, dielectric or insulating safety shoes may be necessary. These feature an upper portion that is constructed with stiff nonconductive material such as plastic or PVC, while the rubber outsoles are insulated with thicker-than-usual rubber material to further insulate workers against dangerous electricity.
These safety shoes also differ from other styles in that they often feature a steel shank in the midsole to provide additional arch support and help prevent strain on the feet. Dielectric safety shoes may also feature impact-absorbing soles for greater shock protection when dealing with strong vibrations from machinery or tools.
Finally, for workers who don’t need specialized protection but do require additional insulation against electricity, puncture-resistant safety shoes can provide an adequate level of protection at an affordable price. These feature reinforced composite material in their uppers, plus puncture-resistant rubber outsoles . The reinforced material helps to keep sharp objects from penetrating your feet while the insulated rubber sole provides a certain amount of insulation against electricity.
No matter what type of safety shoes you decide to wear while on the job, make sure they fit properly, have been tested per OSHA requirements and have the proper certifications for use in electrical environments before using them.
Safety footwear such as insulated rubber boots, insulated steel-toe shoes, and insulated workshoes should all be used when working with electrical systems to reduce the risk of shock or electrocution.