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 https://www.osha.gov.

November 20, 1991

Mr. John M. Syptak
Department of Plastic Surgery
Health Science Center
Post Office Box 376
Charlottesville, Virginia 22908

Dear Mr. Syptak:

This is in further response to your letter of September 12, concerning occupational protective footwear for molten metal workers in the foundry industry.

In regard to your question in the third paragraph of your letter, a "molders" shoe is a generic term for a "slip on" safety boot worn by pourers and molders who are exposed to the hazard of molten metal in foundries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agrees that openings in any personal protective equipment that allow an employee to be exposed to a hazard constitute a violation of 29 CFR 1910.132(c).

The OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.132(a) requires personal protective equipment, including footwear to be worn by employees, whenever there are hazards capable of causing injury by physical contact. Furthermore, the standard requires safe design and construction of personal protective equipment for the work to be performed.

The employer is responsible for the evaluation of specific workplace situations and activities to determine potential foot injury hazards and to determine whether foot protection is required and, if so, what type is to be worn.

Your comments have been sent to OSHA's Directorate of Safety Standards Programs for their information and consideration in any future rulemaking in this area.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If we may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary