Safety Overshoes

Over shoes are an essential piece of PPE (personal protective equipment). Often referred to as shoe covers, they're used in a wide range of workplace settings and deliver a range of features to suit their intended application.

Typically, they're most prominent in catering industries to maintain good hygiene, and they'll often be used by the contractors who enter your home. Essentially, they're designed to create a barrier between the shoe and working environment, and come in a choice of colours, styles, and sizes.

Made in a variety of materials and lengths, they are disposable and can be purchased based on the application for which they're needed. Here at Cromwell, we supply a wide range of over shoes to suit various requirements from leading brands such as PAL®, Tyvek® and Ansell®.

What are over shoes?

Over shoes are a protective covering that fits over the shoes. Fitting involves stepping into the cover which encloses the entire sole of the shoe toward the ankle, where the coverage can be adjusted using the elasticated or tie closure.

Why over shoes?

Overshoes are used in a variety of industries to protect against the spread of contaminants, like dirt or chemicals. This is particularly important in the healthcare sector, and in pharmaceutical and food handling applications. Elsewhere, contractors and workers slip these on when entering a client's home to prevent dirtying floors, and they're an ideal solution to taking off safety boots and shoes to ensure continuous protection to the wearer, regardless of location.

When are over shoes used?

In most cases, they prevent dirt and debris transferring from the soles of shoes into a hygiene priority location. In chemical handling situations, the aim is to minimise the risk of chemical splash transferring from the shoes to the skin when removing PPE.

Safety overshoe types

Safety overshoes can largely be split into two categories; disposable or reusable. Exactly as it sounds, safety overshoes that are disposable are suited for one time use and are meant to be disposed of once your application has ended. Reusable safety overshoes are designed for multiple uses and can be wiped clean and used again. The type of safety overshoe that you require may differ depending on your application and environment.

Considerations when choosing over shoes

• Colour - Over shoes are often colour-coded to suit their intended applications. Blue is the denomination for food handling, while white is neutral. Yellow is used exclusively for chemical protection, and professional cleaning firms often colour-code cleaning locations to ensure the separation of equipment for each space. Cromwell stocks a choice of colours to suit all these requirements.

• Material - Polyethylene features heavily in most over shoe construction and is subject to different production methods depending on the intended application.

• Safety category - ranges from Category I (minimal risk only) to Category III (high risk).

• Over shoe or over boot? - This depends on the coverage requirement for each task.

Over shoe jargon buster

We want to make it easy for you, so here are some key terms that will help you understand the range and applications a little better.

What does the safety standard EN 61340-5-1:2017 mean?

EN ISO 61340-5-1 is not as complicated to understand as it first appears, and it specifies the general requirements for an ESD control process for PPE to protect electronic devices from electrostatic build up (ESD).

Let's break it down...

• EN - This is the current applicable standard across Europe

• 61340 - This is the assigned legislation number

• 5-1 - This refers to the part of the written legislation relevant to the product

• 2017 - This is the year the legislation was passed or updated


Are over shoes waterproof?

This depends on the material and production method. Flash spun polyethylene is permeable to air and water vapour to reduce the build-up of heat and moisture and is often treated with a monofilament coating to prevent the permeation of chemicals and biological hazards.

Laminated polyethylene and polypropylene, however, provides an effective barrier to non-hazardous liquids. Over shoes made in this way are used widely in food preparation.

Do over shoes keep your feet warm?

In short, no. Over shoes that fall under the category of personal protection equipment are designed to form a barrier between the shoe and surrounding environment and have no insulating properties at all.

Who uses disposable shoe covers?

Builders and contractors wear over shoes when entering a client's home to prevent dirt transferring onto carpets. This is the same with food handling industries, where staff wear hair nets, food safe gloves, aprons and over shoes to ensure maximum hygiene.

On the hazardous end of the scale, chemists and laboratory workers will wear coveralls in conjunction with safety gloves and overshoes to protect the skin and clothes against splash, vapour, and gases which may be hazardous to their health.

Should I wear over shoes?

If you fall under one of the above categories, it is most likely that your employer will have a duty of care to provide PPE where risk or need has been identified, and this may include over shoes.

Do shoe covers make a difference?

Yes, over shoes and other similar PPE are rigorously tested to perform to EU safety standards. If an item of protective clothing doesn't comply with certain standards, it must be stated on the technical datasheet for that item.

Do over shoes protect from germs?

Yes, some over shoes are made specifically for that purpose, and will display the safety standard EN 14126, which is a barrier to infective agents, like germs and viruses.