Many types of protective footwear are available for work involving toe and foot hazards. Some are designed for work in a specific craft or industry, such as for fire-fighters, loggers, electricians, or welders. Others provide a specific type of protection, such as crushing, impact, or electrical contact protection. Many footwear options offer combined protection, such as steel-toed, chemical-resistant boots

General Requirements

All, required protective footwear must be paid for by the employee’s college, department, or unit, or by a grant, project, or another funding source.

Funding for Ordinary safety-toe shoes or boots, when required, may be limited, subject to the State Allotment.

What is an ordinary safety-toe shoe or boot?

  • Safety-toe shoes offer impact and compression (crushing) protection and typically have oil-resistant and non-skid soles and leather uppers.
  • The employee must be allowed to wear the safety-toe shoes off the job site.
  • The current State Allotment for safety-toe shoes is $250 maximum per employee on each biennium budget.
  • The supervisor must specify the required protective features for footwear and select, or allow the employee to select, safety-toe shoes that cost no more than the State Allotment.
  • The employee is responsible for costs exceeding this allotment.

Specialty protective footwear, when required, must be provided at no cost to employees.

What is specialty protective footwear?

  • Specialty protective footwear provides protection for hazards other than, or in addition to, protections provided by ordinary safety-toe shoes
  • Protective footwear that combines the protections of ordinary safety-toe shoes with additional protection, such as electrical hazard rating, metatarsal protection, or chemical resistance, is considered specialty protective footwear.
  • Supervisors must specify the required protective features for footwear.


Subject to state allotment Specialty Protective Footwear
Provided at no cost to employees
Ordinary safety toe shoes or boots Shoes with required protections other than, or in addition to, ordinary safety toe shoes or boots.
Ordinary safety toe shoes with optional, but not required, additional protections such as EH rating or metatarsal guards. Personal protective equipment required for special applications such as logging chaps, calk-soled boots, electrical hazard rating, waterproofing,  or chemical resistance with or without safety toe protection.
The State Allotment allows $250 per biennium. Initial or replacement costs exceeding this amount are the responsibility of the employee. When inspection of the protective footwear determines significant wear, degradation or other defect, replacement protective footwear must be provided at no cost to the employee, regardless of frequency of replacement.


  • When additional protection is included but not required, the safety shoes or boots are subject to the State Allotment.
  • When additional protection is required in combination with ordinary safety-toe shoes, the protective footwear is considered specialty protective footwear and must be paid for by the department at no cost to the employee.
  • Replacement of specialty protective footwear must be paid for by the department at no cost to the employee, regardless of replacement frequency.
  • Replacement of protective footwear is required when the footwear no longer meets the manufacturer’s specifications. This could include sole separation, significant wear or degradation of components, or another defect as determined during inspection.
  • Employees who are provided safety-toe shoes with required additional protection, i.e.: specialty protective footwear, provided at no cost to the employee, are not entitled to an additional state allotment, provided they are allowed to wear the shoes off the job-site.
  • When employees are required to wear specialty protective footwear (e.g.: chemical resistant boots) and are also required to wear ordinary safety shoes or boots for a different task, the specialty protective shoes must be paid for at no cost to the employee, and the ordinary safety shoes or boots are subject to the state allotment. The department may prohibit specialty footwear from being worn off the job.
  • The PPE Hazard Assessment must specify each type of footwear required.

Foot Hazards

Sample Activities Hazard Foot Protection Examples
Lab work, pesticides, equipment refueling, handling chemicals, spill clean-up, Chemical/
Chemical protective or resistant shoes or boots or shoe covers
Working around large animals or moving equipment such as forklifts, aerial lifts, pallet jacks, heavy carts, or when moving heavy equipment or materials such as drums, large cylinders, large metal or wood pieces or lumber Compression Safety toe or safety toe with metatarsal protection
Moving heavy equipment or materials such as drums, large cylinders, large metal or wood pieces or lumber, jackhammering, pavement breaking, steel work Impact Safety toe or safety toe with metatarsal protection
Electrical maintenance work greater than 50V AC or DC, installing electrical equipment, equipment grounding, foot contact with live conductors Electrical shock Electrical hazard (EH) safety toe shoes, waterproof shoes,
Operating a snowplow, snow clearing, animal care workers (outside activities), working with molten metal Extreme Heat/Cold Insulated Safety ToeThermal Boots
Use of chainsaw, pole saw, blade/string trimmer, axe or mattock Cutting tools Logging boots, kevlar or cut resistant boots,
Kitchen work, icy surfaces, anywhere walking surfaces are slippery Slippery surface

Wet Surfaces

Non-slip shoes, ice cleats or spikes, Calk-soled boots
Grain milling, spray painting,  working with flammable liquids, explosives, plastics Explosion Conductive footwear (to minimize static electricity)


General Selection and Use Requirements

  • Use the PPE Hazard Assessment as a tool to determine and document the selection of protective footwear.
  • Different footwear protects in different ways. Check the product’s labeling or consult the manufacturer to make sure the footwear will protect the user from the hazard.
  • Each affected employee must wear protective footwear when working in areas where there is a hazard to the foot or leg.

Types of Foot Protection

  • Steel/Composite Safety Toe
    • Provides protection to the toes where personnel are exposed to a crushing or impact injury.
    • Slip-on toe caps are available when toe protection is needed for short or temporary use.
  • Metatarsal Guard
    • Provides protection to the top of the foot (metatarsal bones) as well as the toes.
    • Guards are available and built into the boot or as a temporary accessory where protection is only needed for a short period of time.
  •  Static Dissipative – Electrostatic Discharge – ESD – Conductive
    • Static dissipative shoes minimize the buildup of electrical charge between a person in motion and the surfaces and environment around them, by conducting the charge through the shoes to the ground.
    • Commonly used in manufacturing of electronic components, flammable liquids, explosives, and plastics.
  • Electrical Hazard (EH) – Non-Conductive
    • EH rated shoes are electrical insulators and prevent or reduce the flow of electrical current from the feet to the ground. EH rated shoes can also prevent electric shock from contact with a live conductor.
  • Dielectric Electric Overshoes
    • The soles of these shoes provide a barrier to protect personnel from open electrical sources up to 600 volts.  Protection is provided against the touch or stepping on an energized conductor.  These are typically used for working on live power or in the area of live power where the current can jump large distances, especially in wet or damp conditions.  Typically used when performing equipment grounding near power lines.
  • Thermal Insulated Shoes
    • Constructed to resist high heat and cold situations
    • Provides insulation against hot and cold temperatures and are intended for tough outdoor environments.
    • Constructed to resist high heat and cold situations
  •  Waterproof Shoes
    • Constructed to keep the feet dry and comfortable in wet conditions.
  • Chemical-Resistant Shoes
    • Chemical-resistant shoes are constructed of various materials to provide protection against chemical and biological hazards.
    • Ensure the protective material is compatible with the chemical being used.
    • Slip-on overshoes or booties can also be used for chemical or biological protection.
  • Puncture-Resistant Shoes
    • Designed to protect the midsole of the foot where sharp objects can pierce or penetrate the sole of the shoe.
  • Slip-Resistant Shoes
    • Provides slip-resistant tread for wet, oily, and/or greasy floors.
    • Shoe chains, cleats, or spikes are available to fit over existing boots to prevent falls on ice, snow, or other slick surfaces. Never wear ice or snow cleats when walking on hard surfaces other than snow or ice.

Selection of Foot and Leg Protection

The following chart provides general guidance for the proper selection of foot protection.

Protection Hazard(s) Workplace Environments
Steel or composite toed safety shoes, boots, or covers Impact, compression, cuts, abrasions Construction, demolition, renovation, plumbing, building maintenance, trenching, utility work, grass cutting, materials handling
Metatarsal footwear Severe impact or compression to the top of the foot Jack-hammering, pavement breaking, heavy pipes, steel or ironwork, skid trucks
Heat-resistant boots and/or leggings/chaps Molten metal, super-heated fluids Foundry work, welding operations
Chemical-resistant footwear/leg wear Splash hazard or direct contact/work with certain chemicals Acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating, spill response
Static Dissipative Should be used in conjunction with static dissipative flooring. Work on electronics, computer components, solvent-based paints, explosives, and plastics
Conductive footwear Work near or in explosive or hazardous atmospheres. DO NOT use it when exposed to electrical hazards. Explosives manufacturing, grain milling, spray painting, or similar work with highly flammable materials
Electrical footwear Work on or near exposed energized electrical wiring or components. DO NOT use in areas that have potential flammable or explosive atmospheres. Building maintenance, utility work, construction, wiring, work on or near communications, computer or similar equipment, and arc or resistance welding

Storage and Care

  • All safety footwear should be inspected routinely for cuts, holes, tears, cracks, worn soles, and other damage that could compromise the protective qualities.
  • Footwear required for certain hazards, such as electrical, hazardous materials, or chemical resistance should be inspected by the user prior to each use.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on inspection, care and storage.
  • Damaged or defective footwear must be taken out of service and discarded.

Types of Protective Leg Wear

  • Leg Guards
    • Leg guards are designed to cover the knee, shin, and top of the foot from impact or abrasions.
  • Waders
    • Provide water-proof protection for the feet, legs, and/or lower torso.
  • Chaps
    • Chaps provide protection to upper and lower legs and are usually hazard and/or task-specific.
    • Chainsaw chaps are made of multiple layers of cut-resistant fabric, which is designed to jam the chain saw chain and stop the cutting action before it reaches the skin.
    • Welding chaps are typically made of leather and provide heat/burn protection from sparks and slag.
Protection Hazard(s) Workplace Environments
Leg guards Impact, compression, cuts, abrasions Logging Operations, Tree Work, Chain Saw Work
Waders Wet Environments Wet Environments, lakes, pools, pits, fishing
Chaps Impact, compression, cuts, abrasions Tree Service, Logging Operations, ChainSaw Work


Storage and Care

  • All safety protective legwear requires routine inspection for cuts, holes, tears, cracks, and other damage that could compromise the protective qualities.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on inspection and care, storage