Issues with the test procedure in the ASTM Standard mean the shoes are not suitable for use with live electrical work. The reason for this is as follows:
- The footwear was not tested against direct current (DC) voltages;
- The footwear was not tested for use in wet or damp environments; and
- If the outer sole has been penetrated, by for example a nail or rivet, the footwear will not offer protection from electric shock.
These limitations however are not clear on the packaging or product instructions provided with the footwear, so users could be at risk, but unaware of the situation. In 2021, safety footwear sales in Europe from North America amounted to over 100 million pairs. So, what should you be doing?
If you provide safety footwear for your workforce, or indeed purchase it yourself:
- Check the code on all safety shoes to see if it has been certified Category III protection*, if not report it or stop using the shoes if you are likely to be doing (or working around) any form of electrical work;
- If any footwear purchased is to American Standard; ASTM F2412-18A, contact your supply chain to review and seek alternative; and
- Review risk assessment and arrangements as needed.
It may also be an opportune time to carry out a broader review of your PPE provision to make sure you are providing the most appropriate protection for today’s risks.
*Regulation (EU) 2016/425 (as incorporated into UK law) sets out the essential health and safety requirements that must be met before PPE products can be placed on the GB market. Category III - includes exclusively the risks that may cause very serious consequences such as death or irreversible damage to health.