ANSI and ASTM Standards for OSHA Compliant Safety Shoes

In the United States, all work environments are subject to regulation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is a division of the US Department of Labour. The responsibility of the OSHA is to ensure employee safety in the workplace, and the organization accomplishes this task by setting and enforcing a number of relevant standards.

These standards cover every aspect of the workplace, including Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. PPE is necessary when workers are liable to be subject to dangers that cannot be avoided by the employer. This article will look at protective footwear which falls under the PPE standards required by the OSHA.

What Standards Are Required for Protective Shoes?

The OSHA incorporates standards produced by an independent nonprofit organization called ASTM International, or simply ASTM. The OSHA used to include standards produced by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, but these were replaced by the ASTM for protective footwear standards in 2005.

The OSHA standards cover three important aspects of protective footwear:

  • Performance Requirements - These are the physical performance specifications, e.g. compression resistance or the maximum amount of weight/pressure that the shoe will protect the wearer from.
  • Testing Standards - All protective shoes must undergo standardized tests in an independent laboratory to ensure they meet the required physical performance requirements.
  • Standard Labelling - All protective footwear sold as OSHA compliant must be labeled according to a standard format.

What Are the Performance Requirements?

Each workplace is different, so not all protective shoes are required to meet all of the standards. Instead, each employer must assess their workplace, decide what PPE is required, and supply it to their employees. The following is the list of all dangers covered by the OSHA ASTM standards:

  • Impact - This standard covers falling objects of varying weights and heights, which may be dropped onto the foot.
  • Compression - This standard covers a slower crushing load, such as a vehicle running over the foot.
  • Metatarsal - This standard covers protection of the upper, or metatarsal, region of the foot.
  • Conduction Rating (Cr) - This standard covers the shoe’s ability to resist the build-up of static charge, which can be dangerous in areas that may contain explosive chemicals.
  • Electrical Hazard (EH) - This standard covers the shoe’s ability to protect the wearer from electrical shocks.
  • Puncture/Penetration Resistant (PR) - This standard covers the shoe’s ability to protect the wearer from sharp object puncturing the sole of the shoe, such as nails, glass, etc.
  • Static Dissipative (SD) - This standard rates the shoe’s ability to safely conduct any buildup of static electricity through the sole and into the floor.

How to Read an OSHA Label

An OSHA rated protective shoe will always bear a standard label. It may look something like this:

ASTM F2413
M I/75 C/75 Mt75
SD PR

Here are the meanings behind each line of the label:

Line 1:
This line indicates that the shoe meets the performance requirements laid out in the indicated standard. In this case: ASTM F2413

Line 2:
M / F - Identifies the expected gender of the wearer (in this case, male).
I - Impact rating of the shoe - 50 of 75 pounds.
C - Compression rating - 75 or 50 correlates to 2,500 pounds or 1750 pounds respectively.
Mt - Metatarsal protection and rating (if present).

Line 3:
This line indicates any of the other relevant standards the shoe may be compliant with. In the example, the shoe is indicated as being Puncture Resistant (PR) and Static Dissipative (SD).

Additional Non-Covered Standards

As not all dangers that employees may face are regulated by OSHA requirements, employers also need to consider additional protective properties, such as:

  • Ankle Protection - This may be required when the employee is riding a motorcycle or quadricycle, or walking over uneven ground.
  • Slip Resistance - If the employer is unable to prevent slip hazards, they must supply footwear that will afford protection against slipping.
  • Chemical Permeability - The employer must provide footwear that will be impermeable to any chemicals that an employee will come into contact with.
  • Biological Agents - This requirement covers shoes that are constructed to be impermeable to biological agents and are also easily disinfected.

How Do I Make Sure My Footwear Is Ready for OSHA Testing?

The OSHA requires that all PPE, including protective footwear, is tested at a nationally recognized testing laboratory or NTRL. These laboratories will ensure that the products meet all the necessary requirements by using standardized test procedures.

In order to ensure that your product is able to pass and will continue to pass those standards, you must test the quality of your products before they are sent to a NRTL.

Here at QIMA, we are able to provide a full selection of footwear laboratory testing which will ensure that your product will meet the OSHA standards.

You must also ensure that your product continues to meet the strict OSHA requirements by implementing strict quality control and inspection throughout the entire production process.

QIMA is able to provide full quality control and inspection services at every stage of your manufacturing and shipping process to guarantee your product remains OSHA compliant.

Get in contact with our team of specialists, and we can ensure that your PPE gets to market and stays there.