In Focus

Safe and Fit

New ASTM Manual Discusses Safety Footwear

Lace up your work boots and chances are that ASTM standards are at work to prevent a cut or a bruise on your feet. ASTM International Committee F13 on Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear develops standards that cover footwear performance and fit; the standards are discussed in a new publication now available from ASTM International — Manual 71, Safety and Occupational Footwear.

When tradespeople — carpenters, plumbers, miners and more — focus on the project at hand, they still need to be able to depend on what’s on their feet. And protective footwear needs to function properly. “We see safety footwear as being one of the most important ‘tools’ they use to perform their tasks,” says William Ells, vice president of sales for Vibram USA, Concord, Massachusetts, an F13 member and Manual 71 editor.

Manual 71, like F13 standards, addresses the fit and function of protective footwear. The manual is designed to give an understandable overview of its topic and the relevant standards from ASTM International. It’s a book intended to assist safety professionals in understanding footwear and its role in foot protection. And it’s a manual that considers such concerns as slip resistance.

Ells says that the manual is one of a kind and the slip resistance chapter may be the most important topic in the book. “It’s the one area that needs the greatest amount of understanding, discussion and continued research,” he says. He adds that the topic of slips and falls is significant to those who work within the trades and work service markets. “This manual helps to articulate the issues, concerns and practical details of this complex issue and the ongoing science designed to help better understand it,” he says.

According to Ells, safety footwear represents a complex array of materials, processes and construction methods with a multi-part purpose: to provide comfort, durability and protection. Manual 71 is divided into five chapters discussing these aspects of the subject:

  • Safety and occupational footwear design and style characteristics, fit and sizing;
  • Footwear upper materials;
  • Soling materials;
  • Specifications and test methods for safety for protective footwear; and
  • Slip resistance.

As manual editor, Ells coordinated a group of industry veterans, academia and scientists who wrote and reviewed the text. “All involved… shared their technical expertise and insight,” he says.

The manual is dedicated to the late Daniel Schultz, who had been the ASTM International staff manager for F13 for several years. “Dan was the inspiration and driving force that brought about some of the best work that F13 has ever brought forth. We hope this dedication properly honors his memory within and outside the halls of ASTM,” says Ells.

The safety professionals who form the largest audience for the manual, plus those who help workers pick proper safety footwear and representatives in related industries, should find the manual useful.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.