If you’re working in a physical job, like construction, or one that involves heavy lifting, you probably are outfitted with a hard hat, safety vest, and other safety gear to keep you from coming to harm. But we don’t think too much about how vulnerable our feet are as well or how best to protect your feet. You most likely own a pair of work boots, but are they high traction work boots or have steel toes for the best protection? Work boots outfitted with side zip technology can help you avoid the annoyance of having to re-lace your boots daily and can also offer a more consistent, tight fit. There’s no chances of the laces breaking or tripping over them. Side zip technology can add another layer of protection to your work boots. Foot protection is just as important for employee safety as any other safety protocol, but is often ignored.
Will Having Appropriate Foot Gear Really Help?
If you’re on your feet a lot, having the right kind of footwear will absolutely help! Our feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles that all need taking care of! If you don’t have supportive and well-crafted footwear, you could be at risk for strains, sprains, foot cramps, and ankle trouble. Since a construction worker or laborer can take over 30,000 in his or her typical day (compared to the 10,000 steps most of us take in an average day), having comfortable work boots is a must! If your shoes aren’t the right size, you could be at more at risk for tripping or other accidents.
Having steel toed boots or boots with side zip technology can also help keep you safe by design. If something heavy falls onto your foot without a steel toe cap, the object will fall directly onto your toes, breaking or crushing them. A steel cap toe deflects the weight and keeps your toes safe. Side zip technology eliminates the need for laces and having to retie them or make sure they’re secure.
What Do the Numbers Show?
Three-quarters of workers who were the victim of a foot injury were not wearing safety shoes or boots — so that goes a long way towards showing the importance of having and wearing the correct gear. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees who suffer a foot or toe injury could potentially miss a week (or more) of work while they recover. That’s a whole week of missed wages or vacation time being used up — and this scenario can be potentially avoided in the first place by wearing the right footwear.
Are There Rules In Place to Better Protect Workers?
Certainly there are! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (commonly abbreviated OSHA) is in charge of that. They require employers to conduct a hazard assessment (you can look up the specific wording at 29 CFR 1910.132(d)) that shows what the workplace risks are in their current environment.
These workplace risks also include the risk for foot injury. Furthermore, ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials) also sets some rules for workplace safety. Code F2413-11 measures the performance of work boots and their safety in the name of preventing workplace accidents and injuries that could have been easily prevented.
So I’m Looking to Get New Work Boots. What Should I Keep in Mind?
Unless you have a tried and true boot that you know well, try them on. You want to make sure they’re comfortable and fit well. Make sure there’s at least 12.5 mm between your toe and the tip of your boot to avoid pinching.
Boots with side zip technology and steel toes are also great as an extra measure of safety. The steel toe cap should be firmly attached to the inside of your boot, to make sure that it doesn’t come off. Both steel and composite materials are fine for the toe cap.
Don’t forget about your feet when you dress to go into work. Being laid up with a foot or toe injury that was easily avoidable can be painful and frustrating.
13 Sep 2016