Foot injuries can be quite painful… and costly. They can sideline workers or a team and add tremendous costs to your bottom line. Of the millions of work-related injuries that occur on average each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 10% of those injuries are to the feet and ankles.
In 2020, the National Safety Council reports that foot injuries cost businesses an average of 13 lost workdays with and each ankle injury costs $31,894 and foot costs $27,893 paid in workers’ compensation and medical costs. According to the National Safety Council, past statistics show that only one out of four victims of job-related foot injuries wear any type of safety shoes or boots. The remaining three are unaware of the benefits of protective footwear. This is surprising considering the advancements in safety footwear in both appearance and function over the past few years.
Some of the most common foot injuries that occur in the workplace include:
- Crushed feet, broken bones, and loss of toes. These injuries are more prevalent in the construction industry but can also happen in the logging and fishing industries.
- Puncture wounds to the feet can occur when proper safety footwear is not worn and there are nails, staples, or even scrap metal.
- Cuts, lacerations, and severed toes are common for those who work with machinery.
- Burns can happen due to exposure to chemicals or hot metal splashes.
- Electric shocks are common for electricians and construction workers.
- Sprains and fractures can happen in any workplace and often result from slips, trips, and falls.
By providing proper protective footwear and training, you can prevent these workplace injuries. In fact, it is mandated by OSHA (standard 29 CFR 1910.132 and 1910.136) that employers ensure each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a risk of foot injuries from falling or rolling objects or objects piercing the sole. Additionally, protective footwear should be used when employees’ feet are exposed to electrical hazards.
To remain compliant and protect the feet of your workers, establish a safety footwear program. This includes identifying the appropriate footwear for your employees, ensuring proper fit, and providing training on foot protection guidelines.
Here are some tips to help you choose suitable footwear:
- Never purchase safety shoes that do not meet ANSI standards.
- For slippery environments, select cleat-designed soles.
Softer soles are recommended for slippery indoor conditions, while harder and more rugged cleat-type soles are preferable for outdoor use.
- Most work environments prefer leather footwear due to its strength and coverage of the foot and ankle.
However, when working in wet areas or around chemicals, oils, greases, or pesticides, consider using boots made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a blend of PVC and polyurethane, or neoprene.
- Leather soles provide good traction on wood floors but may not be suitable for tile or concrete surfaces.
- Choose footwear that not only protects employees from potential hazards but also keeps their feet warm and dry.
- Ensure your employees are properly fitted for their footwear to prevent slipping, sliding, or discomfort.
- Purchase work shoes or boots from reputable dealers who offer quality footwear.
Contact your Arbill safety advisor today to start implementing our footwear program, which aims to reduce workplace injuries, downtime, and lost workdays.
Have a Safe Day!