Are Steel Toe Boots Required for Forklift Drivers?

A forklift is a heavy machine or equipment that several big industries use to help make work easier for themselves.

It is mainly used for lifting, carrying, moving, loading, unloading, etc heavy objects or items. This work is not confined to just the indoors, but many a time it can be used in the outdoors as well.

There is always a designated driver or operator who is allowed to drive the forklift as it requires special training and skill for a person to do so. It is a challenging job, which is why OSHA has laid out certain guidelines to be followed by every employer.

OSHA requires every forklift driver to be in proper protective gear while working for their safety and protection from possible occupational hazards.

Are Steel Toe Boots Required for Forklift Drivers

If you are wondering whether forklift drivers need to wear steel toe boots as part of their PPE – the answer is YES! It is part of the mandatory PPE kit that they have to comply with to protect themselves from getting severely injured when working.

As you read further into the article, you will learn more on the subject of why steel toe boots are necessary for a forklift driver.

Risks that a forklift driver faces at work daily

Now that you know steel toe boots are required for forklift drivers, let me explain to you all the foot risks that are involved in this job.

1.) Slipping and falling

Depending on the work environment of the forklift driver there is the risk of slipping and falling. Almost every type of industry has the requirement of a forklift at their job site.

Some of those industries may work with chemicals or fluids of any form, which is hazardous not only to your health but can also lead to being physically hurt if there is any kind of spillage on the floors.

2.) Objects falling

Items or objects falling on the foot is one of the biggest risks involved in this line of work. As a forklift driver, your main job is to load, unload, lift, stack, and store goods either indoors or outdoors.

This means working with items that are heavy or light but mostly heavy. Hence, there is the possibility of things falling on your foot more often than not.

3.) Sharp items

There could be sharp or pointy items lying around on the floor of your workplace. And if you are not careful enough or are not wearing a sturdy pair of safety boots, any such object can easily penetrate through your footwear. This can lead to you getting injured severely.

4.) Toes being crushed

The forklift itself is a heavy-duty piece of industrial equipment that makes life easier for workers when having to move things from one point to the other. Imagine your foot comes under the heavy forklift, which will crush your toes if you are not wearing the right gear.

5.) Harsh chemicals

A forklift driver may have to work in an environment where there are harmful chemicals all around. Your feet can easily come in contact with such chemicals without your knowledge, which can result in serious issues if it exudes in through your footwear.

6.) Exposed ankles

The ankles can get rubbed against rough surfaces of objects or things poking out or even against sharp edges. It will certainly be very painful and to avoid that from happening, wearing high ankle safety boots will be helpful.

7.) Different temperatures

You will be exposed to all kinds of temperatures as a forklift driver. The job might require you to work indoors or sometimes even outdoors.

It could be either too hot or too cold and wearing the right kind of clothing and footwear is essential. Harsh weather conditions are difficult to work in so you always need to be prepared for it.

8.) Exposed to fire

At some workplaces, you could be exposed to fire or at the hottest surfaces. Hence, your safety footwear needs to be a good conductor of heat to be able to protect you against getting burnt.

Advantages of wearing a steel toe boot

Making yourself aware of all the risks that come with any kind of job is a smart thing to do. It is equally important to know why your employer demands you to wear a certain type of protective gear.

Therefore, let us understand why wearing a steel toe boot can help you prevent getting seriously injured if you work as a forklift driver.

1.) If something heavy happens to fall or roll on your foot by accident, your steel toe boots are strong enough to withstand the weight of that object and shield your feet from being hurt or damaged.

2.) If the forklift itself runs over your foot, there is a good chance your toes will not get crushed because of the steel toe boots.

3.) Wearing steel toe boots with a good shock absorption feature will minimize the shock and impact caused by objects falling on the foot.

4.) Most steel toe boots also come with slip-resistant outsoles, which can protect you against slipping and falling on the ground when walking or working on a slippery surface.

5.) Waterproof steel toe boots will be able to block corrosive chemicals from entering your footwear and coming in contact with your skin. Plus, will keep your feet dry and warm throughout the day by not letting your feet get wet.

6.) Steel toe boots can protect your feet from getting punctured by sharp items.

7.) Steel toe boots that have good insulation can keep your feet warm or cool depending on the type of weather conditions you are working in.

8.) There are steel toe boots that have excellent footbed and added cushioning that helps prevent and reduce foot fatigue to a great extent.

Features a forklift driver should consider when buying safety boots

If you are confused about the type of safety boot you need to buy for yourself as a forklift driver, here are a few helpful tips from me to help you decide better for yourself. However, it is important to note that the kind of safety boots you choose will mainly depend on your work environment.

1.) Safety toes

The work boots should have a safety toe feature. The most popular and acceptable type of safety toe is the steel toe cap.

They are the most reliable ones for a forklift driver as they are susceptible to a maximum amount of fatal foot injuries doing what they do daily.

Steel toe caps are known to be the strongest of all the types of safety toes that are available today such as composite toes and aluminum toes.

2.) Slip-resistant outsoles

If you work in a place where the floor gets slippery often then the risk of falling increases. Therefore, the safety boots must have a good grip, which in other words means the outsoles should be slip-resistant.

3.) Puncture resistant outsoles

Along with being slip-resistant, they should be able to provide you with additional protection by not letting anything penetrate through the boots. The safety boots must come with puncture-resistant soles.

4.) Comfortable fit

You must be productive while at work, and if you are not wearing comfortable footwear it could easily hamper your level of productivity. So apart from protecting your feet from injuries, the work boots should be fit you well too.

For additional support and comfort, it should come with cushioned footbeds to avoid getting fatigued quickly while working. They should not be too loose or too tight, but give you a snug fit.

There should be sufficient room for your toes to wiggle in the boots because as a forklift driver you will be pressing your toes against the toe caps constantly. If they do not fit you well, this can be a very painful experience.

5.) Durable

Of course, you would want the most out of your safety boots. Therefore, you should always go for boots that will last you for a long time and can take a good amount of beating at work. The construction of the boots matters a lot in this case.

Despite all the challenges your boots face day in and day out, they should be able to protect your feet and be reliable. Do not go for a cheaper pair of boots to save a few dollars, instead buy the boots that may cost you a little more but will have a longer lifespan.

6.) Material

The material of your safety boots should be tough and durable so they can offer you complete safety and not just safety to your toes. Being waterproof is a good feature to consider when buying your work boots, so your feet can remain dry, warm, and comfortable throughout the day.

It should be made of breathable materials so that moisture does not get trapped inside and leave you feeling uncomfortable. A few other additional features related to the material of the boots are good insulation to help you work calmly during extreme weather conditions.

What else should a forklift driver wear to work?

While forklift driver needs to protect their feet from injuries by wearing protective footwear, it is equally necessary to wear other types of PPE to shield themselves from other possible hazards.

      • Protective or safety eyeglasses
      • Face shield
      • Hard hats
      • Safety or protective hand gloves
      • Safety or protective body vests

These are all OSHA’s requirements that employers must comply with for their respective forklift driver’s safety.

Wrapping up

All things considered, steel toe boots have been in the picture of safety protective footwear for decades. Therefore, they are still considered to be the safest when compared to composite and aluminum toe boots.

However, many workers complain about the former being heavy and are switching to the lighter options like the composite and aluminum toe boots as they are known to provide the same level of protection if not more.

I would still say that before buying any kind of safety boots, consider the kind of occupational hazards you are exposed to daily.

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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