Safety Alert Regarding Nail Penetration and Safety Shoes

The Health and Safety Authority (the Authority) has been made aware of research that shows that certain designs of safety shoes may not provide adequate protection where there is a risk of penetration from construction nails. This research has come from the German Kassel Regional Administration Hessen Equipment Testing Office and the French Research Institute L’Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité (INRS).

It should be noted that in relation sole protection against sharp object penetration, some safety shoes utilise metal inserts whilst others have non-metal (or textile) inserts. Research was conducted in Germany (Reference 1 below) and France (Reference 2 below) in response to reports of accidents on worksites where employees had their feet perforated by nails, despite wearing textile type anti-perforation safety shoes.

These textile type shoes comply with the requirements of the relevant harmonized standards; however the studies have shown that they may allow nail penetration and can therefore be unsafe where this risk is present.

In light of these reports, the Authority is advising that the use of safety shoes with textile inserts may not provide adequate protection in situations where nail penetration is a possibility. The Authority requests that those responsible for the selection and provision of safety footwear read these reports and review their procedures in the light of the information they contain. If unsure about the type of insert in use, the user should contact the supplier/manufacturer for this information.


1. Kassel Regional Administration, Hessen Equipment Testing Office. Final report; Focus initiative 2010: PPE, Penetration resistance of safety footwear. English version of the document is available here; Hessen Report

For information, the following link is to the original German version of the above report “Penetration resistance of safety footwear” Sozialnetz Hessen

2.  L’Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité (INRS). Report is available here.

March 2014

Picture 1: Nail penetration of safety shoe

safety shoes safety alert.Mar2014