How to Encourage Employee to Wear Protective Footwear

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How to Encourage Employees to Wear Protective Footwear

We often hear comments from employers and managers similar to these:

“No matter how many times I say it, these employers just won’t wear proper footwear” or

“I’ve reminded that guy so many times, and he won’t replace his shoes, even though they’re falling apart.”

While protective footwear is considered Personal Protective Equipment, it can be difficult to talk about since most employees purchase their own. It’s not something the employer typically provides and can therefore be difficult for a supervisor or foreman to ensure an employee’s footwear is sufficient.

For information on selecting proper footwear, peer inspections and more, check out these previous articles:

·       PPE Focus of the Month: Protective Footwear

·       Workplace Injury Prevention: Functional Footwear

Though uncomfortable, it’s important to have a conversation with employees on the importance of ensuring PPE is maintained properly. When approaching that conversation, here are two key ideas for any supervisor or manager to keep in mind:

  • If Possible, Talk with Specific Employees 1-on-1
    • This type of conversation is what’s commonly referred to as a Safety Contact – any contact in which a supervisor or manager conducts a two-way conversation to observe exposures, provide feedback and strengthen the use of best practices. These contacts are a great opportunity to build strong relationships between the supervisor and employee – if approached as a method to engage and inform. By talking with the employee 1-on-1, the relationship is strengthened, and he/she can understand the importance of the matter.


  • Explain the Why
    • It’s easy to tell employees to do something, but much more difficult to explain why the action is necessary. Why is it necessary to maintain protective footwear? Any PPE is the last line of defense in safeguarding an employee. If that defense is weakened, the risk becomes higher. No one really expects to get hurt, but we take protective measures to reduce risk. Should an accident occur, faulty equipment might mean serious injury, time spent away from work, added stress, etc. Take the time to explain to employees why maintaining equipment is important to their job.  

These ‘Safety Contacts’ are a great opportunity to strengthen relationships and increase hazard awareness with employees. Taking a moment to have a one-on-one conversation with employees can go a long way in protecting them from future harm.