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3.8 Foot Protection

Laboratory personnel (and other personnel) must wear foot protection at all times in laboratories, laboratory support areas, and other areas with chemical, biological and physical hazards are present. Laboratory personnel should not wear sandals or similar types of perforated or open toes shoes whenever working with or around hazardous chemicals or physical hazards. This is due to the potential exposure to toxic chemicals and the potential associated with physical hazards such as dropping pieces of equipment or broken glass being present. In general, shoes should be comfortable, and leather shoes are preferable to cloth shoes due to the better chemical resistance of leather compared to cloth. Leather shoes also tend to absorb fewer chemicals than cloth shoes. However, leather shoes are not designed for long term exposure to direct contact with chemicals. In such instances, chemically resistant rubber boots are necessary.

EHS strongly encourages Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors to require the use of closed toed shoes for all laboratory personnel, including visitors, working in or entering laboratories and laboratory support areas under their supervision.

In some cases, the use of steel-toed shoes may be appropriate when heavy equipment or other items are involved. Chemically resistant boots or shoe covers may be required when working with large quantities of chemicals and the potential exists for large spills to occur. Cornell University sponsors a “Shoe-Mobile” every three months on campus for campus personnel to purchase a variety of steel-toed shoes for both work AND personal use at discounted prices. Contact EHS at for more information on chemically resistant boots, or to find out when the “Shoe-Mobile” will be on campus.