Stepping out in hot weather

By Jeff Salton on February 6th, 2018
  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. Safe Operating Procedures


Most of us are familiar with the footwear requirements of jobs like construction and manufacturing, such as hard toe boots, non-slip soles, etc, but what if your business has a mix of indoor and outdoor activities and some exposure to chemicals, like cleaning products?

It can be a problem when the weather is hot and workers would prefer to wear sandals, thongs or open-toe shoes, or when fashion-conscious workers prefer to wear high-heels.

Michael Selinger, health and safety lawyer at Holding Redlich and Editor-in-Chief of the Health & Safety Handbook, says from a work health and safety perspective, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to eliminate or minimise, so far as reasonably practicable, the risks to the health and safety of workers and other persons.

“Appropriate footwear can be one means of reducing or eliminating some of the risks to health and safety in the workplace, such as trips and falls or chemical and physical hazards,” he says.

“The best way to determine the appropriate footwear in the workplace would be to conduct a risk assessment and determine what footwear would be required to eliminate, or otherwise minimise, the identified risks.”

Michael says your risk assessment may determine that your work environment or certain activities and locations may require specialised footwear in addition to other risk management actions that aim to eliminate the identified risks.

For example, enclosed non-permeable shoes may be appropriate to minimise the risk of a chemical spill, or steel-capped boots may be appropriate to minimise the risk of falling tools and equipment in a workshop environment.

Enclosed shoes, such as joggers, may be appropriate to protect feet and provide appropriate grip in other areas. And don’t forget to check that the footwear is in good condition.

Discuss the risks with your workers about wearing inappropriate footwear or where and when protective footwear and clothing should be worn. Create a policy around these requirements if necessary and introduce it to workers so they understand your reason for it – which is their safety.

The Australian Standard AS2210 Occupational Protective Footwear will also help you in this regard.

For all workplace-related health and safety queries, make sure you consult your Health & Safety Handbook. Subscribers can also access the Helpdesk, in which lawyers provide answers to your individual questions.

Find out for yourself how helpful both products and services are by subscribing to the Health & Safety Handbook today.


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