Ways of Ensuring Foot Protection Safety in the Workplace.
Workplace hazards happen every time with employees facing injuries from different potential risks. Approximately 5% of the injuries that occur in the workplace are foot related causing about nine days of absence from work.
Some of the possible foot hazards in the workplace include rolling objects, penetrating materials, corrosive and hot substance, as well as electrostatic and electrical hazards.
Most companies run foot protection workplace programs with the aim of protecting their employees from any impending danger that they are susceptible to.
Some of the industries that require maximum foot protection safety include the chemical laboratories, agricultural, geological and engineering field strips, gardeners, welders, packers, assemblers, as well as any employees that spend their workday standing.
Work Related Foot Injuries.
Work-related foot injuries come in two-fold. The first category involves injuries that originate from punctures, sprains, and crushing while the second one originates from slips and falls.
Slips and falls occur due to lack of attention to the foot safety rules and improper footwear. Other additional foot conditions that an individual is highly likely to get include bunions, ingrown toenails, and calluses.
The injuries may not originate from the workplace, but they cause fatigue, discomfort, and pain during work hours.
Special Footwear Protection.
Various footwear and foot protection products provide different ways of protecting the users from hazards. The majority of the injuries occur because the employees are not wearing the right foot protection.
Therefore, the users need to identify the likely foot hazards and acquire the proper protection. Some of the special foot protection that the employee needs to wear includes:
- Safety-toed shoes/boots- the impact-resistant toes protect the user from falling, rolling, or crushing hazards. Some of them have metal insoles and soles that are heat resistant to prevent punctures and heat entry.
- Metatarsal guards- they prevent impact and compression on the instep area. The guards are mostly strapped on the outside of the regular work shoes. Manufacturers use steel, aluminum, plastic, or fiber in the manufacture.
- Rubber overshoes- individuals wear this footwear to concrete work. They are also popular in areas highly prone to flooding.
- Electrical Conductive shoes- they protect the wearer’s feet from workplace electrical hazards by preventing the completion of an electrical circuit to the ground. They also prevent the buildup of static electricity.
- Leggings and foundry shoes- the welding foot protection prevents the hot metal or the welding sparks from lodging on the lower legs and in the shoes. They also provide insulation from burns and injuries from molten metal.
- Toe guards- they prevent impact and compression on the toes. The manufacturers use steel, plastic, or aluminum in making the guards.
- Studded treads- the shoes allow employees to work and walk on ice easily
- Rubber or slip resistant soles- they protect workers working on wet floors from slips and falls.
An employer should assess the potential hazards and develop strategies that help reduce foot problems among the workers. Identifying proper footwear is one of the ways to ensure foot protection in the workplace although other factors such as job specifications and workplace design may have an effect on the feet.
Employees who spend most of their times standing are highly prone to aching and tired feet than anyone else. Therefore, employers should carry out procedures such as job rotations and team works, and rest breaks.
Additionally, job enlargement that involves different tasks allows the workers to stretch their muscles other than remaining stationary all day.
Ideal Features of a good Foot Protection Product.
Most people do not think much about the importance of proper footwear until they get an injury to the bone, ligament, or muscle and it begins to hurt.
Friction and pressure are the leading causes of damage to the toes and heels. Proper footwear should have a soft cushioning material that provides protection and comfort to the feet and aids in the healing process.
You may consider checking the thickness and the type of material used in the manufacture of the footwear, and the grade of the protective toecap before the purchase of a foot toe protection.
Footwear should have the following features to ensure maximum safety to anyone wearing it:
- It should be of a sturdy material that can easily withstand wear and tear
- It should have low heels and non-skid soles to prevent slipping.
- Provide a perfect fit that matches your feet that provide an excellent foot support
- The shoes or boots should have laces or Velcro that fasten it securely
- Footwear for environments with sharp objects should have a steel midsole that protects the foot against penetration.
- A soft upper with minimal stitching
- The sole should not bend at the middle or the ball of the foot.
- It should have an ideal depth and width to prevent pressures on the toes and nails
Foot Protection Standards.
Several bodies in the United States have formulated the foot protection standards. Most regulations require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in a company once an employer confirms the presence of workplace hazards.
There are different standards used in the United States, but the most common ones include OSHA standards, ASTM and ANSI.
The ASTM standards require that manufacturers should process and test foot toe protection and metatarsal guards as an integral part of footwear. OSHA standards, on the other hand, require the employer to cover the minimum level of personal protective equipment for their employee at the work site.
Safety footwear plays different roles meaning that one type of shoe/ boot may not provide security in some situations.
Therefore, the user should have a clear understanding of the markings used in identifying safety footwear to avoid getting the wrong foot protection equipment. Employers should conduct a continuous assessment at the workplace to determine the relevant hazards and prevent any injury before it happens.
Involvement of workers in the foot protection training on the health risks of wearing improper footwear helps them avoid any injury before it happens.
The employers should also teach their employees on the simple rules of general foot care and ideal way of selecting proper footwear.