Salisbury Sweetens Safety Shoe Policies

SALISBURY — Salisbury officials this week relaxed the rules on safety shoes for employees by doubling the annual reimbursement amount under certain conditions and offering them more choices for replacements.

Salisbury Public Works Director Teresa Gardner came before the City Council on Monday to request a change in the town’s policy regarding safety shoes for certain employees whose jobs require specific safety footwear. Gardner told the council many employees in the various divisions within the public works department were on the job each day with worn out shoes or footwear that did not meet acceptable safety standards for several reasons, not the least of which was the cost of replacements.

“When we surveyed a lot of our staff, we found them to be on the job wearing shoes held together with duct tape and some wore just worn out,” she said. “We found that a lot of them can’t afford the 50-percent match for reimbursement for new safety shoes for the job.”

Gardner told the council she and her staff had reviewed the safety shoe policy for county employees, particularly those in certain divisions such as construction or utilities, for example, that require safety footwear, and made some recommendations for easing the reimbursement policy for the purchase of new safety shoes. Salisbury employees afforded two methods to obtain safety shoes for the workplace including a reimbursement policy or a pre-paid voucher.

The current policy allows employees to be reimbursed up to $100 each fiscal year for safety shoes purchased for their jobs, but Gardner on Monday asked for and received permission to raise the annual fiscal year reimbursement level to $200 for an approved style of safety footwear.

“The shoes must be OSHA-approved,” she said. “We went through and identified each job by title to determine who should receive reimbursement for safety shoes and how much is needed each year to replace them. Some of them need new safety shoes practically every month, while some employee’s safety shoes last the whole year.”

Gardner said it didn’t matter where the employees purchased the shoes as long as they met the approved safety and style standards.

“It’s totally up to each employee,” she said. “If they provide a good, valid receipt, they can get reimbursed. There is a processing in place for reimbursement.”

After considerable discussion about the reimbursement limits and a possible single-source vendor that might maximize the city’s purchasing power, the council voted to move the requested changes to the next meeting’s legislative agenda.