When safety battles fashion over bloodborne pathogens
No matter what the season, questions about casual footwear—mostly sandals, clogs, and Crocs—and compliance with OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard always seem to crop up.
Maybe it’s global warming that is the cause for all those exposed toes and heels, or is it just that employees are adamant that the workplace not infringe on their sense of foot fashion or comfort?
Casual footwear that exposes feet to injury from dropped contaminated needles and sharps and exposure to chemicals is a legitimate safety concern in healthcare facilities. OSHA says it is the employer’s responsibility to identify the hazard and situations where reasonable occupational exposure exists and to take measures to prevent the exposure.
One measure is to provide personal protective equipment for those exposure-prone situations. Another solution is to make the choice of footwear subject to the business’s dress code. OSHA says, “businesses can make this type of dress code determination without regard to a worker’s potential exposure to blood, OPIM, or any other recognized hazards.”
An OSHA letter of interpretation explains this nicely. Have it ready the next time a sandal-wearing employee wants to go toe-to-toe with you.
For more information on this footwear battle, check out the footwear fashion video clip in the Video Library.