Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Protect Workers With a Foot Protection Policy

Stay Informed

Consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the human foot is an engineering marvel of the human body — one that needs the utmost protection while on the job. Ensuring that there is a standard in place for safety shoes at your facility commensurate with your risk will ensure adequate protection for your employees.

The Reality of Foot Injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60,000 foot injuries per year result in lost work days, costing an average of $9,600 per lost workday. Additionally, objects weighing less than 30 pounds account for 80 percent of all footwear injuries impacting the foot. So nails, screws, pieces of glass, and shards of material pose just as much threat of injury as items of greater weight.

Why a Standard Is Important

Without a foot protection policy in place, workers may be exposed to injury risk from manual material handling tasks with dropped-object hazards on a daily basis. If employees wear inadequate footwear with no impact protection, and very little resistance to a slip or a puncture, it could be an injury waiting to happen. Not to mention, a regulatory compliance gap when a known hazard is present with no control in place.

Hazard assessments are required to determine what workplace hazards exist, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Consensus standards help formulate top level protection factors for that PPE derived from scientific testing. With a firm policy built on industry leading standards and a comprehensive hazard assessment, the bar is set for employee foot protection.

Real World Injury Scenarios

Let’s take, for example, two common scenarios when an employee foot injury could occur. Scenario A depicts an employee exposed to a puncture hazard, while Scenario B has an employee exposed to a dropped object hazard.

  1. An employee steps on a nail on the warehouse floor while wearing safety toe shoes with puncture resistant soles. No treatment is required since the nail did not quickly penetrate through like it could with a lightweight athletic sole. Focus can turn to proper housekeeping instead of immediate injury response.
  2. An employee drops a 26-pound box of washers on his or her left foot. The employee’s impact-rated safety toe cap prevents a significant toe contusion or fracture. Focus can turn to proper material storage and handling instead of injury recovery and indirect costs of a toe fracture. 

It’s a Shoe-In

The statistics and scenarios make it clear how important it is to have and enforce a standard for safety shoes at your facility. When that’s in place, your work gets off on the right foot.

Here are some other things to keep in mind relative to being healthy on your feet.