The University of Iowa

PPE - Foot Protection Information


Safety shoes are required where the potential for serious injury to the foot may result from an employee's daily job duties. Foot injuries may occur in areas where there are rolling or falling objects, objects piercing the sole, or where feet are exposed to electrical hazards, such as a static-discharge or electric-shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures. These guidelines are not intended to apply to functions performed by an employee on a rare or special occasion, unless the risk of foot injury is great.

There may be other instances when safety shoes are needed.  Departments can determine this by performing a hazard assessment of their work areas.  Contact EHS if you need assistance with this process.

Use of Safety Shoes

In general, the need for safety shoes is indicated if work involves:

  • Hand carrying rigid equipment or objects weighing 20 lbs. or more up and down stairs
  • Lifting or carrying rigid equipment or objects on a floor or level surface where:
    • 20 to 49 lbs. or lifted or carried object is above knee level, or,
    • 50 lbs. or more is lifted or carried at any elevation.
  • Use of wheeled carts or dollies that have a load of 50 lbs. or more.
  • Use of mechanical lifting equipment such as overhead hoists to lift and move material.
  • Areas where sharp objects may puncture the feet.
  • Areas with manual material handling carts or heavy pipes that could roll over the feet.
  • Frequenting areas where others are engaged in the above activities.

Shoe Design Standards

Safety shoes and boots meeting the ANSI Z41-1991 provide both impact and compression protection. Special types of shoes can also be obtained that provide puncture protection, or offer electrical insulation from foot contact with electrical sources.

Shoe Purchase

Chapter 33.4 of the UI Policy Manual states the following:

 “Safety shoes, as authorized by the employing department, will be provided as needed to staff members required to wear them. Each department is responsible for determining the style of shoe that is to be worn by its employees. Staff members are responsible for maintaining shoes, including the cost of minor repairs.

 In the event the department determines that special shoe protection is necessary or special shoes are required to meet operational demands, said equipment will be furnished by the department at no cost to the staff member. Each department is responsible for procuring safety shoes from outside vendors for staff members required to wear safety shoes. Shoes may be purchased with a departmental procurement card (Pcard) or purchase order, or the department may reimburse the staff member for shoes purchased directly.”

 Each department is responsible for determining the amount they will spend on safety shoes for their employees depending on their departmental budgets and is responsible for procuring safety shoes with outside vendors for its employees.

Shoe Wear Factors

Damaged or defective shoes should be replaced.

Shoe Limitations

Safety shoes only protect the toes and not the instep or metatarsals.