Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

August 15, 1977

Mr. Robert J. Neuendorf
Rigger Shop Representative,
Local 1098
4001 Theota Avenue
Parma, Ohio 44134

Dear Mr. Neuendorf:

This is in response to your letter dated June 24, 1977, to President Carter, which was transmitted to this office for reply, regarding the requirement that Republic Steel Corporation employees wear "Sankey" guards for foot protection.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is aware of this requirement at Republic Steel Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio, from previous correspondence, employee complaints, and OSHA inspections. OSHA is presently attempting to assist the employer to better define the proper application for the "Sankey" foot guard. The manufacturer is also involved in these discussions.

The OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.132(a) outlines the general requirements for protection of extremities. OSHA has reviewed the "Sankey Toe Caps" and find that they provide adequate impact protection which meets the intent of the standard, if worn properly to address the hazard involved. However, it is the employer's responsibility to determine the particular type of personal protective footwear needed.

The standard requires that foot protection be used whenever it is necessary by reason of hazard of processes or environment which could cause foot injury. The employer should determine which, if any, of his employees are exposed to the foot injury hazard. This does not mean that those employees requiring foot protection are required to wear foot protection at all times when working. When employees are exposed to the possibility of foot injuries, foot protection shall be worn. When employees are not exposed to possible foot injuries foot protection is not required by the OSHA standard, which then becomes solely a matter of employment conditions existing between the employer and his employees, and where applicable, subject to any labor/management contractual agreement.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the employer, prior to the OSHA inspection, to evaluate with good judgment the foot injury hazards of the specific situations and activities in which he may involve his employees, and decide whether foot protection, and what type, is needed to be worn. OSHA has obviously not attempted to prepare for the employer an industry-wide "yes-no" type of chart or document for wearing foot protection according to mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive categories of situations, activities, general industry and construction sites, etc., which approach infinity in number.

I hope this information will be of help to you. If I may be of any further assistance, please contact me.


Basil J. Whiting, Jr.
Deputy Assistant Secretary