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Foot protection in the workplace

Pennsylvania employers have a responsibility to ensure that their employees have the appropriate safety gear to carry out their duties without encountering avoidable risk to their lives or health. This covers both direct traumatic injuries and long-term injuries or illnesses caused by toxic exposure, repetitive stresses or other workplace hazards.

One of the most basic forms of safety equipment is a pair of work boots, and there are many different types of footwear appropriate for particular workplaces and tasks. It is essential that the type of boot be matched to the exact risks that the employee would be facing. The dangers on an construction site are substantially different from those working in standing water ankle deep.

Employers who are unfamiliar with which boot matches the specific exigencies of their industry will often be able to find helpful information about the characteristics of the particular safety boot from the manufacturer. Many companies have been in the business of manufacturing footwear that complies with safety laws for decades, so their products are often well designed for these purposes.

A failure on the part of an employer to properly protect and care for its employees could result in a workplace accident that causes serious injuries. Most Pennsylvania companies are required to carry workers' compensation insurance, and an injured worker may want to file a claim for benefits that could include medical treatment and partial wage replacement. However, under some circumstances an attorney could recommend that a claim not be submitted if the employer's failure could be considered negligence. In such an event, an alternative could be the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against the company itself.

Source: Safety and Health, "Understanding work boot safety standards", April 24, 2016

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