Proper footwear can prevent slip and fall accidents and reduce the potential for workplace injuries. In the United States, employers are required to maintain safe flooring surfaces, but in most cases, it is up to employees to provide their own footwear. The choice of footwear can have a significant impact on the employee’s injury risk in the workplace.
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Fact #1: Workers Have a Right to a Safe Footing
OSHA standards require employers to provide safe flooring surfaces for employees. Surfaces should be stable and kept free of debris, cords, and other obstacles that can cause workers to lose their footing. Wearing closed-toed shoes that have good traction and are made from protective materials can help protect workers from falls or foot injuries.
Fact #2: Light Objects Can Cause Significant Feet Injuries
The majority of injuries to feet, toes, ankles, etc. are caused by objects that weigh less than 30 pounds. Even an object weighing just a couple of pounds can build up significant momentum as it falls and causes serious injury when it strikes a lightly protected foot. For this reason, many workplaces require the use of steel-toed boots to protect the feet against falling objects.
Fact #3: The Majority of Workplace Accidents Involve Slips, Trips, and Falls
Lax maintenance of flooring surfaces and work sites, inadequate fall protection, and other negligent actions are among the most commonly cited violations of OSHA standards. Slips and falls are a leading cause of injuries for workers 55 years or older. In the US, approximately 85% of workers’ compensation claims involve workers slipping and falling on slick flooring. Shoes with non-skid soles can help minimize a worker’s risk for slips and falls.
Fact #4: Comfort and Design Impact Foot Injury Risk
Workers should choose shoes that provide ample support, fit properly, and are comfortable to wear. Shoes and boots that are too heavy, awkward, or uncomfortable can cause workers to stumble, suffer sprains and strains, or experience other footwear-related injuries on the job.
Fact #5: ASTM Standard F2413 Helps Protect Workers
The American Society for Testing and Materials sets rigorous standards governing protective footwear. These standards require labeling identifying the boots protection against electrical hazards, punctures, metatarsal and compression protection. The higher the rating in each category, the greater the degree of protection the boot will provide to the worker.