Put yourself in visitor shoes. Would you, like most people, hope they were clean and free from germs and bacteria? Even when wearing your own socks, there is a real chance that germs can infiltrate your body. Wearing shoes previously worn by strangers conjures up feelings of human hair in food, and often it doesn’t matter that the hair is one’s own!
The standard clause in workplace safety procedures includes reference to OSHA regulations. Risk assessments must be made and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the proper Personal Protective Equipment is worn by employees. If the risk assessment determines the need for safety shoes or boots to be worn at all times then even occasional trips through the designated safety zones require full protective safety footwear. The regulations require this of office personnel who do not frequent the production floor on a regular basis. Regulations also require where employers provide safety footwear for occasional use that it must be fully cleaned and sanitized inside and out before it is given to the next wearer. Many companies provide safety footwear for occasional use but how can one be sure that the footwear has been sanitized?
The visitor shoes market has been benefiting from advances in the safetytoe overshoe sector. Manufacturers of safetytoe overshoes have been educating employers and helping them reduce their overall safety costs. Visitors are not employees but they are deserving of the same minimum standard of safety when entering industrial environments. The production floor may well have a requirement for employees to wear full safety shoes or boots. Perhaps employees are subjected to sharp objects underfoot as well as the threat of falling objects. This would require them to wear toe protected and steel soled safety shoes or boots. However, where visitors are chaperoned and guided along safe passageways there is no need to impose full safety footwear upon them or incur the cost and hassle of it.
Rubber safetytoe overshoes provide the same level of toe protection as required by OSHA for workers in industrial settings. The same levels of impact and compression are provided for in the steel toecaps used in safetytoe overshoes. OSHA does not approve PPE but it does impose minimum standards where protective equipment is required. These minimum standards must be ASTM / ANSI “or equivalent”. So much so that a steel toecap with a strap or elastic retainer was the norm before safetytoe overshoes first came on the market. Today these are frowned upon, due to the loose straps and buckles themselves becoming a safety hazard. Often referred to as “those yellow clackers”, for varying reasons visitors dislike wearing them and plant managers cringe at the noise they make on factory floors. Items of PPE that make the wearer feel uncomfortable are less likely to be worn consistently. Likewise, an item of PPE that gives rise to derisory comment is less likely to be embraced.
Rubber safetytoe overshoes are now available with the steel toecaps completely encased in the rubber material. They are stylish and comfortable. Design enhancements have much improved their appearance and safety features. The rubber material itself affords greater slip resistance. There are no straps or buckles to contend with and in some cases the overshoe can be put on and taken off with only one hand. Rubber safetytoe overshoes can be transferred from person to person with no hygiene issues and outer shoes completely enclosed in a rubber overshoe are less likely to contaminate food production and clean room settings. These innovative and versatile items of PPE are a lot less expensive than full safety footwear and the rubber material will not harden, stiffen or crack, even in cold temperatures.
All in all, safetytoe overshoes, for all the right reasons, have in effect become visitor shoes