60,000 foot injuries a year on the job site. $9,600 per injury. 80% of injuries caused by objects weighing 30 pounds or less. Workplace foot injuries are a serious issue that cost companies and workers time, money, and a lot of stress. Here’s everything you need to know about foot injury prevention and how a little care goes a long way.
These statistics (courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics) prove an alarming point: workplace foot safety is a serious issue and one that needs more attention.
Not only does each injury cause serious financial damage to the company, but the employee must also endure weeks of pain and loss of quality of life.
Injury is a serious issue. Thankfully, the effects and risks can be minimized with proper safety.
Workplace Injuries: Who is at Risk?
According to government statistics, the workers most in need of safety work boots are:
- Construction Workers: Working construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Ladders, scaffolding, heavy equipment, nails, falling objects—hazards lurk around every corner. Safety footwear, workplace safety regulations, and proper operating procedures for heavy equipment are an absolute must.
- Transportation Workers: Anyone involved in transportation (truckers, bus drivers, etc.) is at risk of foot injury from prolonged periods of driving, heavy lifting, and entering/exiting their vehicle frequently.
- Food Service and Retail Employees: Anyone required to stand on their feet for hours every day is at risk of bacteria, blisters, and a number of other foot issues.
The Most Common Hazards in the Workplace
Safety footwear is necessary in workplaces that include:
- Falling objects
- Items that can puncture the shoe (nails, etc.)
- High-voltage electrical current
- Extreme cold
- Wet environments (high risk of trips, slips, or falls)
The Cure for Common Foot Hazards: Safety Footwear
Safety footwear and proper training are vital to preventing common workplaces injuries. The most common injuries are all highly preventable with the right pair of work boots and proper training. For the most common hazards, Occupational Health and Safety Magazine recommends the following:
- To prevent crushed feet: Steel-toed or composite-toed boots that are ASTM F2413-05 compliant.
- To protect from chemical burns: Leather footwear with synthetic stitch or rubber, plastic, or PVC compound boots.
- To prevent electric shocks or overexposure to electric current: Safety footwear that incorporates an electrical hazard (EH) sole and heel.
- To prevent frostbite or other permanent tissue damage: Insulated footwear that captures the body’s heat and is fully waterproof.
- To prevent slips and falls: Protective footwear with non-slip rubber soles. Also, footwear with laces that wrap tight around the ankle will help prevent sprained ankles.
These are not the Only Kinds of Workplace Foot Injuries…
Although slips, trips, broken bones, punctures, and lacerations are the most severe work-related foot injuries, they are far from the only kind.
In fact, some other less noticeable injuries could have worse long-term consequences (since they go untreated). Again, work boots and other safety footwear are the first line of defense.
These injuries are more along the lines of fatigue, discomfort, and general pain. However, these will also make a worker prone to more severe injuries.
Do not ignore these signs:
- Severe aches
- Flat feet
- Ingrown toenails
- Infections (like athlete’s foot)
- Overly sweaty feet
Some may seem innocuous (and they may very well be), but chronic issues cannot be ignored. The most common causes are:
- Poorly fitted footwear: Workers in retail, food service, fitness, and general trades must have a pair of properly fitted boots or shoes. Make sure to invest in a comfortable bear of work boots and take the time to try each on (while moving around in them).
- Long periods of standing: There are professions where this cannot be avoided. If you find yourself standing for long periods of time, a comfortable pair of boots or shoes is a must. Please refer to the tips given below to take pressure off your feet and stand properly at work.
- Hot and humid environments: Workers in overly humid environments must wear breathable footwear or they are at severe risk of fungal infections. If you are in a tropical climate, invest in a pair of boots that are heat resistant.
- Flooring: Believe it or not, hard flooring has a severely negative effect on your feet. It’s almost like a hammer hitting your heel lightly every time you step. Concrete floors not only create a heavier impact on your feet, but they also become wet easily, making them dangerous slipping hazards.
Tips for Avoiding Foot Pain at Work
If you stand all day at work, use these tips to avoid foot pain. Minor aches and pains might not seem as severe as other major injuries, but they can lead to chronic, incurable issues.
- Do daily stretches before work and before you go to sleep to help increase your flexibility
- Pay attention to your posture. Keep your shoulders pulled back with your knees slightly bent while standing. This takes the weight of your vulnerable joints
- Switch your weight back and forth every few minutes to avoid putting too much pressure on one foot
- Take sitting breaks
- Treat your feet to a foot bath or massage!
Of course, nothing is as effective as a pair of well-fitted work boots. This is especially true if you will be spending 8 hours a day or more in them. Be sure to invest as much as you can into your foot health.
Work-related foot injuries cost millions of dollars in damage and endless pain and suffering. With proper training, a bit of education, and the proper pair of work boots for your environment, you can keep yourself, your employees, and your bank account happy! Remember, investing a few hundred dollars or so in a pair of great boots now is far superior to the alternative—a life-altering injury and thousands in damages.