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Considerations when determining toe guard height for safety reasons.

A question we get frequently is “What is a toe guard?” and, “Can the distance the toe guard is from the floor be changed?”

A toe guard is a bracket that provides a barrier between the caster wheel and someone’s foot. It’s made of material strong enough to push a boot out of the way, preventing a caster wheel from running over someone’s foot. Toe guards are used as a safety device and are becoming more popular with automated carts and vehicles moving around manufacturing facilities.

Once someone decides they need a toe guard, the next question is, “how far from the ground should the toe guard ride?” The industry standard is for the guard to be ½” from the floor. This standard covers steel toe boots and is low enough to hit the sole of most sneakers. It also prevents the toe guard from riding up and over someone’s foot.

In most factories with smooth floors, no ramps, and small expansion joints – similar to most factories built in the last 20 years – this works fine and keeps people safe. Older facilities or applications requiring ramps or outdoor use may require changing the toe guard’s height from the ground, which can easily be adjusted in the design phase.

Height tradeoffs

The tradeoff is the toe guard’s height from the floor that’s required to maneuver easily around the given terrain of the application –and the type of safety footwear required in the facility. With most steel-toed safety shoes, toe guard heights from the floor could be increased to 1″ and still catch the boot and move it out of the way. If ramps are an issue, tapering the toe guard to accommodate the ramp and still minimize ground clearance is also an option.

A urethane skirt can also be added to the toe guard in extreme situations. A good example is where a lot of ground clearance is needed, but foot protection has to be closer to the ground. The skirt is strong enough to push a shoe out of the way and provide compliance with uneven floors.

In conclusion, a toe guard is a safety feature added to casters to stop workers from getting hurt by a cart or a vehicle running over their shoe. The standard height from the floor of a toe guard is ½ an inch. This height can be modified based on the terrain the caster must travel over. The tradeoff is the higher off the ground the toe guard is, the more types of shoes can fit underneath it and negate the safety feature. We have seen toe guards become more popular as autonomous vehicles have become more numerous in manufacturing material handling systems.

See the video on YouTube – Is there a required height for a toe guard?