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New ASTM standards for safety footwear

December 5, 2011
ASTM International continues to change and adapt as the need arises to provide the safety footwear market with a set of standards and test methods that continue to improve safety footwear. On August 11th, ASTM released its new F2412 and F2413 standards and methods for testing. Included with the changes was the addition of F2892-11. This standard specification method allows manufacturers to test and label non-safety toe footwear that meets standards that previously were only part of the safety toe footwear standard and testing, such as electrical hazard or static-dissipating footwear. In the past, footwear manufacturers provided this type of footwear but were unable to label it as meeting ASTM standards.

Look at the labels

You’ll now begin to see changes to the labeling of the footwear in the marketplace that meets the new standards. The change to the label in safety toe footwear will be minor and only consist of changing the year of the previous change to the new one. You will still see the familiar rectangle on the inside label that starts with ASTM F2413 on the top line; however, it will now read F2413-11 for the new standards and testing. If you see this, you will know this footwear was tested to the newest standards and methods provided by ASTM.

Changes to soft toe, or non-safety toe footwear, will be the easiest to recognize as ASTM will now require footwear manufacturers to place an oval on the inside label — instead of the rectangle used in safety toe footwear — that will include ASTM F2892-11 and any standard designation that the footwear meets, whether it be static dissipating designated with an SD, or puncture resistant designated with a PR. As a consumer, you will now know that your soft toe footwear meets safety standards set by ASTM.

Other changes

These changes bring some consolidation and removal of less used standards such as I/50 C/50 classifications for impact and compression, while aligning further with CSA and EN standards and testing. One of the revisions changes the EH (Electrical Hazard) testing from 14,000 volts to 18,000 volts while lowering the leakage allowed to 1 milliamp from 3 milliamps, aligning it with the CSA Z195-02 Electrical Shock Resistant standard (ESR).

Additions also include changing from a molded wax form for metguard testing that didn’t always fit the size and width of the shoe being tested to one that allows the wax to be molded to the size and shape of the shoe being tested. This will allow for a greater range of sizes to be tested.

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Fast on your feet

Know what types of foot and leg protection are available, along with their applications, such as:

Leggings protect the lower legs and feet from heat hazards such as molten metal or welding sparks.

Metatarsal guards are made of aluminum, steel,
fiber or plastic, and protect the instep area from impact and
compression.

Toe guards fit over the toes of regular shoes to protect the toes from impact and compression hazards. They are generally made of steel, aluminum or plastic.

Combination foot and shin guards protect the lower legs and feet, and can be used in combination with toe guards for greater protection.

Safety shoes have impact-resistant toes and heat-resistant soles that protect the feet against hot work surfaces common in roofing, paving and hot metal industries. Some safety shoes have metal insoles that protect the wearer against puncture wounds.

Electrically conductive shoes reduce the risk of static electricity, which could produce a spark and cause an explosion or fire. Employees working in hazardous environments such as explosives manufacturing facilities or grain elevators must wear conductive shoes. Foot powder — which provides insulation and reduces conductivity — should NOT be used with conductive footwear. Silk, wool and nylon socks can produce static electricity and should not be worn with conductive footwear. Note: Employees exposed to electrical hazards must NOT wear conductive shoes.

Electrical hazard, safety-toe shoes are nonconductive and will prevent the wearers’ feet from completing an electrical circuit to the ground. These shoes can protect against open circuits of up to 600 volts in dry conditions. The insulating protection of these shoes may be compromised if the shoes become wet, the soles are worn through, metal particles become embedded in the sole or heel, or workers touch conductive, grounded items. Note: Nonconductive footwear must NOT be used in explosive or hazardous locations.

Foundry shoes are snug-fitting and made of leather or leather-substitutes, with leather or rubber soles and rubber heels. In addition to insulating the feet from the extreme heat of molten metal, foundry shoes keep hot metal from lodging in shoe eyelets, tongues or other shoe parts. All foundry shoes must have built-in safety toes.

Source: OSHA publication 3151-12R, Personal Protective Equipment