It’s safe for electricians to wear steel toe work boots according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); the boots’ material doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the electrical hazard safety features.
Electrical fatality rates are approximately 0.09 fatalities per 100,000 workers per year. Don’t become one of these statistics by wearing the wrong work boots to work.
Rather than be shocked by electrifying workplace hazards, stick with us and discover whether steel toe work boots are safe to wear during electrical work.
In this article, we’ve unearthed:
- What the main causes of electrical dangers are.
- Which boots offer electrical resistance.
- Which boots electricians should wear.
Our experienced editorial group at MyBestWorkBoots works hard conducting in-depth investigations to bring you the scoop on commercial technology. Thus, we’ve put together this thorough guide on whether electricians can wear steel toe work boots.
Let’s get into it.
Is It Safe for Electricians to Wear Steel Toe Boots?
Electricians should wear steel toe boots if they choose to; according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), they have nothing to do with electrical hazard protection.
The boots’ material doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the electrical hazard safety features.
Can You Wear Steel Toe Boots as an Electrician?
You can wear steel toe boots as an electrician; they are not a risk to your safety.
OSHA expressly notes in a letter of recommendation that it doesn’t usually consider wearing steel toe boots by electrical tradespeople to be dangerous.
As long as the conductive section of the boot isn’t in contact with the employee’s foot and is not exposed on the outside of the boot, there should be no danger.
According to an interpretation letter from OSHA dated March 17, 1993, electrical traders are not required to wear “safety-toed shoes”; if the worker so desires, they may purchase non-metallic safety boots that are non-conductive and provide foot protection.
What Are the Main Causes of Electrocution Electrical Dangers?
The leading causes of electrocution electrical dangers are:
- Electrical equipment failure
- Short circuits
- Wet hands touching electrical appliances
- Barefoot contact with electricity lines or defective appliances
- Overloaded circuits
- Inadequate grounding
- Incorrect wiring
- Interaction with high-voltage circuits
- Unexpected electrical sparks
Which Boots Offer Electrical Resistance?
Boots that offer electrical resistance, according to OSHA, are an electrical hazard, non-conductive safety-toe boots, which will prevent the wearer’s feet from completing an electrical circuit to the ground.
In dry conditions
These boots can protect against open circuits of up to 600 volts and should be used with other insulating equipment and extra care to decrease the possibility of a worker becoming a path for harmful electrical energy.
Electrical hazard boots are designed with features such as electrical shock-resistant heels and soles.
The outsoles also provide secondary electrical shock protection in accidental contact with energized electrical circuits or parts.
Under dry conditions, all sections that guard against electrical shock can resist 14,000 volts at 60 Hz for 1 minute with no current flow.
3 Types of Boots That Offer Electrical Resistance
The 3 types of boots that offer electrical resistance are Electrical hazard boots, dielectric boots, and anti-static boots.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Electrical Hazard Boots
Electric hazard (EH) certified boots have passed the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for electrocution protection.
These boots are often insulated, preventing the wearer’s feet from directly contacting the floor.
In dry conditions, these shoes protect against 600 volts of current.
One thing to remember
Leather boots will not automatically qualify for EH ratings, even if they provide arc fire protection.
Dielectric boots give protection against high voltage current and can withstand electric flow even in wet situations.
Anti-static boots are designed for workers who work in static-charged settings. They provide electrical resistance ranging from 0.1 to 1000 Mega Ohm.
These boots aid in the dissipation of static energy from the body and give resistance to electrical shock from live circuits.
Anti-static boots are typically worn when there is a higher risk of explosions or fire. They are typically labeled SD (static dissipating) or ESD (electrostatic discharge).
Static dissipating boots reduce the buildup of static electricity in the body but do not prevent it.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) safety boots feature meager electrical resistance (approximately between 0.1 to 100 mega ohm). These shoes inhibit the accumulation of static electric charges in the body by discharging the charge to the ground.
Which One Offers Better Electrical Resistance, Leather or Rubber?
Rubber offers better electrical resistance than leather, though the electrical resistance capacity of boots is unaffected by the material.
This is according to studies on contact resistance between the body and points of electrical contact, such as the ground.
One more thing
One factor that makes rubber a superior insulating material against electricity to leather is that electricity requires the flow of electrons in a conductor, which rubber lacks. As a result, rubber does not conduct electricity.
What Boots Should Electricians Wear?
Electricians should wear EH-rated boots with non-conductive and electric shock-resistant bottoms with heels that don’t conduct electricity from the circuit to the boots and feet.
Rubber soles are preferable because they are non-conductive. Plastic is also helpful because it is non-conductive.
Because metals are good conductors of electricity, steel toe caps are not advised for work boots to be used during electrical work.
However, if the steel toe boots are EH approved, you can wear them during electrical work.
As long as the shoe material covers the metal, steel toe boots have shown no signs of electric transfer.
It’s preferable if the shoes are made of leather, suede, or rubber.
Essentially, the ideal work boots for electricians have the following features:
- Safety toe protection
- Rubber outsole
- Durable design
- Cement construction
- Comfort features
Let’s delve into these a little deeper.
Perhaps the most important feature of work boots for electricians is that they are EH rated, which means they provide electrical hazard protection. In practice, this implies that no boot component may conduct electricity to the contractor’s foot.
OSHA has no explicit rules for electricians’ safety toe material, and the safety group doesn’t require electrical employees to wear a safety toe. However, a steel toe can be built into an EH-rated pair of work boots and count as PPE if the following conditions are met:
- The conducting element (the metal) is never in direct contact with the employee’s foot; a non-conductive layer must be between the two.
- The conductive component of the shoe is not visible from the outside.
In other words, steel-toed boots can be certified as providing electrical hazard protection if the steel is wholly enclosed in non-conductive materials like rubber or leather.
A well-designed work boot will last for years with almost no risk of the steel exposing on either side. This means that a steel-toed work boot will not conduct electricity more than a composite-toed EH boot.
Purchasing a safety boot from a recognized, trusted brand and confirming the EH rating is the most fantastic method to assure you will never be exposed to shocks through your shoes.
Safety Toe Protection
Safety toe protection is vital for electricians on the job.
You’ll want to know if electricians can wear steel toe boots because steel provides excellent foot protection. Steel safety toes can withstand significantly more pressure and impact than composite safety toes, which is why road workers typically favor them.
When you’re constantly at risk of being driven over by a vehicle, you want all the protection you can get.
Composite toes are still fantastic choices, and many of the better brands employ them. However, steel is the most acceptable option if you require very protective safety toes on your work boots.
Electrical professionals commonly prefer steel working in locations where impact damage (e.g., from falling objects) or pressure is a risk.
Adequate waterproofing is a critical component in the construction of work boots that are indispensable for electricians.
Water conducts electricity; therefore, an electric shock could occur if a shoe were saturated along with the worker’s foot.
Electricians routinely work on wet surfaces with exposed wires, representing a safety hazard.
Work boots are often manufactured with full-grain leather uppers that provide ankle protection. Some include a membrane that offers extra protection against water coming into the shoe.
Keep in mind
This isn’t only a safety feature; it’s also a comfort factor. When selecting a work boot, whether it has a steel toe or not, you must be protected from water entering the shoe. Blisters are incredibly irritating, but electrocution can be lethal.
A high-quality rubber outsole is the main line of defense against getting an electric shock from a wet surface.
Most protective footwear has thick rubber soles that give increased grip and complete electrical resistance; however, polyurethane is another standard and effective option.
And another thing
The metal part of steel toecaps is often encased in a rubber outsole. Because high-quality rubber is highly resilient, it would take many years of intense wear and tear for a metal toe to become a hazard.
The rubber sole is typically paired with full-grain leather to make a waterproof shoe that can defend against any ground-based electrical hazard.
As an electrician, a boot with a durable design is crucial; this is why it’s recommended that you purchase from companies known for creating high-quality safety footwear for electricians and contractors: it’s safer.
When it comes to contractor footwear, quality is everything.
A durable design also means that your boots will last a lot longer, so you won’t need to replace them every so often.
It’s worth it
There’s validity to the notion that large purchases pay off over time; a high-end pair of steel-capped boots will last you for years.
They are more likely to remain comfortable for a more extended time due to design characteristics that increase durability, and the safety given by the metal toe is less likely to be compromised.
A good boot is a long-lasting boot. Steel safety toes protect by using high-quality materials that will endure as long as the steel.
In modern work boots, cement construction is often favored over nail construction. This is especially true if the shoe has a composite toe, which implies it is entirely metal-free.
This is useful for anyone who works in areas where metal detectors are used, such as airports.
Some say that nails will always have a longer lifespan than cement. Is there a reason manufacturers prefer cement to nail construction, especially if you already have a steel toe cap?
Benefits of cement construction include:
- Losing weight
- Improved grade of contact cement
- Reduced possibility of exposed metal
The cap adds significantly more value to the shoe than the nails do; hence cement is used over nails in steel toe-capped shoes.
Nails may make it marginally more robust over time, but the extra metal adds weight and raises the potential for electrical hazards.
Manufacturers believe that the possible problems of nails outweigh the benefits of contact cement (literally) when contrasted with the significant safety advantages of steel toes over composite.
This is why it is the favored construction approach for most of today’s top boots.
Slip resistance is a vital work boot feature for electricians, especially if your workplace is wet enough for currents to flow through the water, representing an electrical and slip and fall hazard.
To keep you safe on the job, a decent pair of work boots will have an outstanding slip-resistant rubber grip on the sole.
This is important
A good grip is particularly vital while working in restricted spaces, which electricians frequently do.
This is an occupational safety precaution, and one of our most outstanding safety advice is to test the grip on any shoes you buy before wearing them to work.
Comfort features are still crucial to consider, even though steel toes primarily protect your feet from impact risks such as falling items and pressure threats, making them rather sturdy.
After all, you’re wearing the shoes, and everyone’s feet are different.
This is why there isn’t always a “best” work boot: as long as it contains the necessary protective features, such as solid steel toecaps, rubber soles, good waterproofing, and fits snugly, it’s the proper shoe.
Is It Okay for Electricians to Wear Steel Toe Boots?
It’s okay for electricians to wear steel toe boots.
OSHA generally doesn’t consider steel toe boots worn by electricians to be hazardous, as long as the conductive section of the boot isn’t in contact with the foot and isn’t exposed on the outside of the shoe.
Are Steel Toe Boots Conductive?
Steel toe boots are not conductive.
A prevalent myth is that wearing metal in boots is dangerous when working with electricity.
Metal is only conductive when it comes into contact with another metal.
The steel toe caps in steel toe boots are covered by non-conductive materials, like leather, rubber, and insulation.
What Are the Risks of Steel Toe Boots for Electricians?
There are no risks of steel toe boots for electricians unless the boot has degraded to the point where the metal is exposed.
The rubber and leather protect the metal and the electrician’s foot from static electricity and other job-specific risks.
The first rule of working as an electrician is to protect yourself from electrical risks.
Several excellent manufacturers make the proper work boots; the trick is to choose one that is both comfortable on your feet and provides adequate protection to keep you safe in the workplace.
Steel toe boots offer the highest level of protection available in work boots. High-quality steel toe boots provide comprehensive protection against electrical mishaps and keep you safe from various other hazards.
They’re a perennial favorite among electricians and an excellent pick for your next pair of work boots.
That’s all for now.
Have a wonderful day!