How to Assess Workers’ Needs to Find Proper Protective Footwear
The style, fit and materials of your boot could be the difference in safety or an on-the-job injury.
- By James Iwanski
- Feb 01, 2021
Did you know that injuries to the lower extremities are the second most common type of injury behind injuries to the upper extremities? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 900,000 workplace injuries that resulted in days away from work in 2018. Of those cases, more than 10 percent were related to foot or ankle injuries.
Foot injuries cause significant pain for those affected and create significant burdens for safety professionals. In addition, injuries affect employee morale, hinder production and output, hurt employee recruitment and cause significant legal and regulatory headaches. Nothing is more important for a business than worker safety, and as a safety professional, you’re at the forefront of ensuring everything can be done to decrease the likelihood of jobsite injuries.
So where should you start? While there are many different aspects to worker safety, providing employees with the proper footwear can go a long way toward reducing the frequency and severity of injuries. Here are a few things to consider in order to find the right protective footwear and improve safety on the job.
Understand Work Environment Risks
In order to select proper footwear, safety professionals must first assess the work environment to understand what their workers need protection from on the jobsite. Go with a safety footwear company that will help you evaluate your work environment by going through the areas below:
- Slips, trips and falls. Are the floors often covered in oil or other liquids that might increase the risk of slips or falls? Other examples of high-risk fall surfaces include polished concrete, slippery floor materials, stairs without no-slip treatments and uneven flooring.
- Common impact sources. Are there any objects in the work environment that pose a risk of falling or being dropped on workers’ feet? Tools on raised tables, large crates being lifted or other heavy materials being moved are examples.
- Compression or rollover risk factors. Do workers interact with objects or terrain that might cause compression or rollover foot injuries? This could be automated closing doors, pallet jacks or forklifts.
- Static dissipative causes. Are employees at risk of coming into contact with static charges from things like sensitive electronics?
- Electrical hazards. Does the work environment contain objects such as exposed or aging wiring or electrical equipment that might cause electrical injuries?
- Puncture risks. Is there anything commonly found in the work environment, such as scrap metal, pallet nails or glass, that might puncture footwear and cause injury?
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.