Without proper foot support and cushioning you can endure tremendous strain on your muscles; the proper footwear and insoles can help to alleviate this strain. (MEGAComfort photo)

Taking Strides Toward Safety

You can use 100 percent dual layer memory foam insoles to alleviate pain and fatigue. Utilizing insoles in your shoes also prolongs the life of protective footwear.

Like most people, you probably spend more time standing on your feet than thinking about them. Whether you work for long hours on your feet, stand on your feet all day, or even if you work at a desk, if you’re not wearing proper footwear and have appropriate foot support and shock absorption, you can have a horrible day. Even worse, continually lacking adequate foot support and cushioning can lead to debilitating lower body pain.

Without proper footwear or arch support, you can develop bunions, corns, sprains, and fungal infections. Unfortunately, these uncomfortable foot problems can happen at home or at work. However, your working conditions can exacerbate or accelerate these issues because spending large amounts of time on your feet, standing for hours on end, can increase your risk for inflammation.

Additionally, it can cause serious permanent damage. However, this can all be prevented with proper foot protection or support. You may already wear protective footwear, such as heavy-duty or steel-toe boots. If you work in construction, mining, in a warehouse, or in any field that requires the use of heavy machinery or equipment, then you know the importance of keeping your feet safe. However, simply wearing work boots isn't always enough to guarantee safety or reduce back pain. There are numerous types of footwear and insoles that can prevent health problems and injury to your feet. As well, being mindful of ergonomics in the workplace, providing your employees with the proper footwear that will provide better foot support and help prevent musculoskeletal diseases and injuries is a key consideration and addition to your PPE program.

As a first step, you need to evaluate your workplace for safety hazards. This should be an ongoing process. Continually analyzing your work site will help you select the best footwear program that both protects and supports your workers.

Analyzing Your Workplace
Workplace safety is a major topic with tremendous impact and importance. There are so many components, and each one must work together to create a safe environment. It's critical to you and your team's safety that your workplace is evaluated on a weekly basis. If that sounds like a lot, take a moment and think about everything that happens in one week at your workplace.

How many people move in and out of the office? What do they carry? What equipment are they using? Chances are, your workplace and personal work space change daily and weekly. There might be new machinery, walkways, pathways, and hazards, and it’s important to know how they affect you and your team.

As you evaluate your workplace, pay close attention to your footwear. Do you need more protection? Inadequate or poor-quality footwear worn by employees can cause disasters. Things such as poor footwear construction or untied laces can lead to injuries. As you look around, notice whether there are slip, trip, and fall hazards. If you use anti-fatigue insoles in your shoes as a cost-effective alternative to matting, you can reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls while simultaneously providing your and your employees' feet with the cushioned support they need as you and they walk or stand for long periods during the day.

Ensuring everyone in your workplace has appropriate footwear can be the first step toward safety. However, it's important to look beyond footwear protection and ensure all employees are trained on each machine and device. Workplace education can prevent serious injury and enhance safety awareness.

Safety for All
Much as there are numerous types of jobs requiring different types of equipment, there are multiple types of footwear protection to prevent injury. For example, steel-toe boots are perfect for construction workers because they prevent heavy materials or objects from crushing the feet or toes. Visitors and temporary workers at construction sites or factories also can utilize steel-toe overshoes to prevent injury.

While you can use steel-toe boots or steel-toe overshoes to stop heavy equipment or sharp tools from falling onto your feet, injury can still come from below your feet. Puncture resistant footwear can protect you from being stabbed by a sharp object on the ground. Alternatively, puncture resistant insoles also can protect your feet from shards of glass, nails, and other dangerous objects.

Safety footwear is available for so many different types of workers. For example, if you work in the logging industry, you are frequently using chainsaws. Thankfully, logging boots are available that are cut resistant and repel water.

If you're someone who works with electricity, then you have a unique set of tremendous risks for potential electrical shock in the workplace. To prevent workplace injury, the solution for electrical workers is non-conductive footwear made of leather, rubber, or other materials that do not conduct electricity. On the other hand, insoles with ESD threads allow for the dissipation of static buildup to electronic equipment and at the same time help to reduce foot pain and fatigue.

Finding the Perfect Fit
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 65 percent of fall-related injuries occur on same-level walking surfaces.

Ensuring employees have proper footwear can tremendously decrease the number of fall incidents. Finding the perfect fit starts with finding the right footwear. It's critical that your shoes fit properly because well fitted shoes enhance the safety of footwear. To find shoes with a good fit, remember that they should not pinch your feet or toes. Your shoes should be made of high-quality, strong, and sturdy materials that either repel water or do not absorb water.

You may have a favorite pair of shoes that you've worn for ages. Although these well-loved shoes may be comfortable, it's important to ensure your shoes do not have rips, holes, fasten properly, and that the soles have good traction. If you're someone who spends all day standing on a hard surface, it's vital that you properly support and cushion your feet.

All of the small muscles in your feet act as full-body support, including your legs, knees, and back. Without proper foot support and cushioning you can endure tremendous strain on your muscles; the proper footwear and insoles can help to alleviate this strain.

In addition, you can use 100 percent dual layer memory foam insoles to alleviate pain and fatigue. Utilizing insoles in your shoes also prolongs the life of protective footwear. Many times, your shoe can keep going while your insole has lost its ability to properly support you. As well, machine-washable insoles keep your shoes smelling as fresh as possible while offering you the comfort you need.

Stepping Out with Safety
Having adequate or proper foot protection means more than wearing the right footwear; it means being more aware and protecting you and your employees from dangerous hazards. Making sure that your team is wearing properly fitted footwear that helps them avoid slips, trips, and falls means that you are creating a workplace culture centered around safety.

Utilizing ergonomics in the workplace by providing employees with better foot support will prevent musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. Giving workers the foot support they deserve not only increases productivity and healthfulness, but also it enhances health and wellness initiative programs and their success.

The cost of workplace injuries is greater than its dollar amount—it means a depreciation in morale and positive workplace relationships. Workplace injuries can have deep ripple effects within a company. In fact, the CDC and BLS have shown that one in six of all lost-time work injuries results from slips, trips, and falls.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure a safer workplace. Evaluating your workplace and ensuring every employee has proper and supportive, comfortable footwear can prevent most slips, trips, and falls and create a safer working environment.

References
1. http://www.arbill.com/arbill-safety-blog/bid/203028/Painful-Statistics-on-Slips-Trips-and-Falls

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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