Myth or Fact - 11/29/2010
U.S. Compliance Systems, Inc.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Safety E-QuickTips is a weekly email designed to help Employers and Employees
start their week with a short thought about safety in the workplace.
Myth or Fact
The phone rings and over the intercom I hear, "They have a question about Personal
Protective Equipment." So what's the question? "My employees don't want to wear
steel-toed boots. They say steel-toed boots are more dangerous than regular boots.
If something falls on their foot, the steel in the boot will cut their toes off. What do I
For more than 15 years, I have answered that question time and time again and
always the same way. "You need to tell your employees that steel-toed boots are
required by OSHA when there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling
objects. Steel-toed boots are designed to meet specific ANSI standards and will
protect their feet from crushing or amputation better than any regular boot. So it is
in their best interest to wear them."
This was the best I could do until the other day when I was watching a show called
"Mythbusters." If you have never seen the show, they perform different tests to
determine if a commonly held belief is Myth or Fact.
On this particular show, they were running tests to see if wearing steel-toed boots
was more dangerous than wearing regular boots. Specifically, if something falls on
the boots, will the steel curl and cut off someone's toes? Finally! Something to
support what I had been saying for years, or at least I hoped.
First, they had to try several items to see which would best represent the human
foot. They tested chicken legs, bamboo, and frangible feet. They ultimately found
that clay best represented the human foot.
Next, they ran a guillotine drop test at a height of 3 feet with 75 lbs on the steeltoed
boot with a clay foot inside. The boot compressed slightly with no amputation.
The same test on a regular boot failed and I'm sure you can guess what failed
Then, they performed an arbor press test with the steel-toed boot and it was able to
withstand 6000 lbs of pressure before failing. The regular boots undergoing the
same test could handle only 1200 lbs.
The final test was to put a shearing attachment on both the arbor press and the
guillotine. Finally, they were able to cut off the end of the foot in a steel-toed boot.
When the shearing attachment was used with the guillotine, it glanced off the steel
toe cutting the foot off. Of course, with the regular boot the results were the same.
Myth or Fact? Fact. The tests confirmed that wearing steel-toed boots provide
your feet better protection than regular boots when exposed to falling or rolling
I am happy to see that what I have been saying for years is true. But more
importantly, I hope anyone who finds themselves working in conditions where there
is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, will not second guess the
value of steel-toed boots.
By the way, this was episode 42 of Mythbusters for any of the skeptics who would
like to see the tests in action.
Thanks for reading and please - Be Safe This Week!
U.S. Compliance Systems, Inc.
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