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.

May 19, 1994

The Honorable Tom Harkin
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Harkin:

Thank you for your letter of March 30 on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Larry L. Larson, concerning a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation requiring foot protection for employees exposed to falling object hazards. I appreciate the opportunity to address this matter.

As Mr. Roy Gurnham of my staff discussed with Mr. Don Wiberg of your office on May 4, OSHA did not recently issue such a rule. Although, OSHA did promulgate a rule August 9, 1994 that requires toeboards to be provided in certain circumstances to protect employees against the hazard of falling objects (please see p. 40733 of the enclosed rule for fall protection), there is nothing in that rule that requires steel toed shoes to be worn. Of course, OSHA does require appropriate foot protection to be worn when there are foot hazards present (please see copy of 1926.95). Such hazards include nails in boards and equipment or materials that can cause injury if dropped. When such hazards are absent, such as may be the case in Mr. Larson's line of work, then there is no need to wear such protection.

If Mr. Larson would like additional information, he may contact Mr. Gurnham or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff in the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8136.

Thank you for your interest in this matter.


Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary