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 Post subject: Safe Footwear
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:58 am 
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Last week my supervisor asked me to do some research on safe footwear for our Engineering Technicians, who are out in the field doing data collection. In NFPA 70E under article 130.7 for PPE it just lists leather work shoes. Which is fine but he wanted to know if NFPA or OSHA stated you shall have safety toed or steel toed shoes. I didn't really find anything definitive stating you should have those inside leather, electrical hazard or di-electric shoes. So I'm not sure what kind of toes are safer or in what kind of shoes are better. And I kept researching and didn't find any more information in regards to the 2012 70E. So what have some of your companies chosen to do and what is the safest footwear for our data collectors?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:36 pm 
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Somewhat disappointed nobody answered this. You are looking in the wrong place. 70E mentions leather work boots if you are using the tables for arc flash hazard analysis. If you use an engineering approach, you are on your own and have to consult your PPE supplier. In practice most folks just accept leather work boots since the concern is exposure in the face/chest area anyways and extremities are not considered in arc flash standards for the most part.

The place to look is in OSHA 1910.136. This section is pretty vague but basically directs you to consider electrical hazards, objects piercing the sole, and crushing/impact from falling or rolling objects (safety toes or metatarsals). Then it refers to the various test standards for footwear.

Please note one small issue: "EH" (electrical hazard) footwear. This is a boot that has an UNTESTED insulative layer incorporated into the sole. It is recommended only where there is a potential risk of shock but if there is any actual shock concern, then the only TESTED an accepted solution short of grounding is using dielectric overboots. Worse yet, both are banned in areas where static charges are an issue, especially hazardous locations. Unfortunately the boot sales guys have been aggressively promoting EH bootts more and more, and so this causes problems in shops like mine which have hazardous locations because so many work boots now have EH layers as a "standard feature" among many manufacturers. The alternative, static dissipative clothing and/or straps, is much more inconvenient.

I can also honestly say that although you'd have to pay to have it done, most rubber boots have a significant amount of inherent arc flash protection.

All that being said, my employer is a mine. So we require safety toe shoes as required by MSHA. WV coal mines (due to state law) as well as most iron and steel operations (due to heavy falling object hazards) require metatarsals. My current employer also requires puncture resistant soles due to a number of sole penetration incidents on construction sites around the site. The inserts that you can buy are very cheap and not all that uncomfortable for walking around all day while standing on an aluminum plate and make a non-rated boot acceptable. Many service techs that visit us come underequipped to meet plant rules (except the mine guys...that often have full metatarsals).

You might also want to consider if you are climbing ladders a lot. In that case, many utility rules require boots with a "ring angle heel"...a substantial heel such as found on logger boots. This prevents your foot from slipping "through" a rung on a ladder. In a similar direction, consider whether or not you should require a 3/4 or full shank. This is where the steel plate in the boot extends past the heel and either to the edge of the toes or all the way to the toe. These make pole climbing MUCH more comfortable and also make it a "shovel boot"...you can stomp your foot on a shovel and work a shovel all day without getting sore from the edge of the shovel. The downside is that they are MUCH less flexible and make you feel like you are standing on a steel plate all day (which you are).

So my recommendation would be to look at your exposures and wear the appropriate footwear. I'd stay away from EH boots. If there is an actual risk of shock due to ground potential rise, you should be wearing the correct footwear (dielectric overboots), or better yet, lay down grounding mats. I've been wearing safety toe boots since I grew up (on a farm) and never gave them a second thought. Metatarsals are a horse of a different color, expensive, hard to find, and usually don't offer any substantial additional protection. Puncture resistance is frequently a good idea and not very expensive these days (just buy the inserts).

Last thing to consider is that if you require "exotic boots", it becomes a required safety item and the employer is on the hook to pay for them (read the letters of interpretation attached to 1910.136). Most employers that I've worked for handle this by paying a "boot allowance" which is supposed to offset the difference in price between say a steel toe and a soft toe boot. The allowance becomes sort of moot when you get into metatarsals or full shank boots where you may as well just pay for the boots entirely, or pay a fixed amount for boots (price some and pay the difference between a $50 pair of work boots and whatever is the cheapest boot you are requiring), or sometimes just outright supplying boots (as the foundry I worked at did). This alone should drive you towards looking for the minimum requirement that gets the job done.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:05 pm 
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This issue can be somewhat moot if you are a consultant or contract engineer work in a clients site. All of the client sites we work in require a minimum of steel toed shoes when in their production facility. The steel toed shoes are required as a minimum by our clients to meet OSHA, ANSI and ASTM safety shoe standards. Because of this, our company safety standards require us to have a minimum of steel toed shoes on whenever we go to a clients site to do anything other than to attend project or sales meeting.

With new cliuents, we request a copy of their safety equipment standards and acquire any addition safety equipment required such as electric shock rated shoes, etc. For those on our staff who regularly do work in clients substation, distribution areas or control system panels, we require and supply shock rated steel toed safety shoes and pay upto $125 per pair once every two years.

So another source for Ohm's of what to required would be to contact other company's in his area or in similar industries and see what their safety shoe policies are.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:03 am 
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Link to a good article by Hugh Hoagland on DI and EH rated footwear and associated standards:
http://ohsonline.com/articles/2011/04/01/using-dielectric-and-electrical-hazard-shoes.aspx


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:37 am 
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Thank you all for your responses. You gave me some food for thought.
PaulEngr: I did not state it very clearly but I had looked at OSHA's 1910.136 but I didn't really feel like I took away any information that was additional or helpful for our company. But I thank you for explaining the difference between Di-electric and Electrical hazard footwear. I was unaware that they don't have to test EH footwear before its stamped on the boots, so if we do choose to go deeper than just leather work shoes I think di-electric would be the way to go.
John Priester: I thank you for your input on how your company handles a new client and what your guys do if they are out of the office setting and at other business doing work. And I will check into other company's policies and similar industries plans on this factor.
A King: I thank you for sharing that link, and I would agree that is a very good article to read when it comes to this issue.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:00 pm 
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Dielectric overshoes are basically rubber boots similar in design and construction to rubber gloves. They are useful if you cannot mitigate the problem of step potential hazards. When working on high voltage systems (especially above 69 kV), step potential hazards are very real and very significant. In a substation, the gravel and ground grid work. When doing pole line work, there is no protection. Options are either dielectric overboots which are only available up to around 15 kV, or using portable ground grids. So dielectric overboots really just don't have a place in the world since by the point where step potential hazards are a significant problem, the voltages involved are beyond the protection available from dielectric overboots. The utilities that still make them mandatory are essentially implementing an extra layer of protection. This is identical to mandating wearing rubber gloves while using a hot stick. In either case it turns the electrician into a floating object where both grounded and energized equipment can become a hazard so over time, the general practice is to ensure that the employee is either fully energized (bare hands work) or fully grounded (equipotential grounding, mandatory under OSHA as of 2009). Floating objects introduce just far too many issues.

See IEEE 516 for guidance on grounding. It's for utilities but it is the best out there. This is what OSHA and 70E refer to. Make sure that it is the 2009 edition or later. There are some errors in previous editions which made it necessary to revise several regulations.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:39 pm 
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here in quebec almost everybody stick to the same standard
you just get standard boots with the green triangle (it's a CSA logo i think)
you get toe protection, sole piecing protection, and ohms isolation at some level
after that they just have there specific here and there, metatarse,minimum of 6 inch high,chemical protection

like here the first link i got don't even know who they are
but you get the ohm and Green triangle all the time
http://www.allsafetygear.ca/csa-certified-footwear.html

ok it's not an engeneer response

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/footwear.html
here are the logo definition

we find the green and ohm logo almost standard on each boot you can buy

just saw you can get some special one for static discharge and some with conductive sole

but after looking around even a ohms boot with steel toe are maybe not good to arc flash
when i look at these one

[url='http://www.allsafetygear.ca/caterpillar-mens-linchpin-csa-p715034-p711292-p711290-p.html']http://www.allsafetygear.ca/caterpillar-mens-linchpin-csa-p715034-p711292-p711290-p.html[/url]


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:22 am 
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Alright so it sounds like overboots really won't help us out that much. And I will definitely will read IEEE 516 because I haven't even looked at it.
Thank you for the links, it seems like Canada has a good way to deal with electric shock protection by having it already integrated into their boots, and by having that as a standard feature. We may have to look into buying some of those boots for our employees.


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