How the Foundation of Your Success Lies in the Health of Your Employees’ Feet

How the Foundation of Your Success Lies in the Health of Your Employees’ Feet

Feet are the foundation of wellness in any employee.

All companies know that their employees are the foundation of their success. Hard-working, innovative, motivated, organized, happy and healthy employees are essential to a company thriving, growing and surpassing the competition. 

Encouraging these employee qualities and satisfaction is simple—focus on the health of their feet, the foundation of their body. 

The Painful Problem 

From distribution, delivery, warehouse, light & heavy industrial, maintenance and more, many jobs and positions require all-day standing, some in one stationary position and others constantly moving. Various studies show possible detrimental effects to the body from five or more continuous hours on your feet.  

The resulting pro-longed lower body muscle fatigue may raise the risk for long-term back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Overuse and body weight pressure can lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), which account for 60 percent of work-related injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, arch and heel pain, metatarsalgia, shin splints and more.  

Long durations of standing or sitting can lead to poor blood circulation that causes fatigue and cognitive symptoms, especially when other health issues are present such as diabetes and obesity. This reduced blood flow increases the chance of painful discomfort from a life-threatening blood clot, either deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE) as well as memory loss and difficulty concentrating.  

Employees feeling fatigue and pain are less productive and aware. Pain causes them to move slower, get less done and can result in distraction errors and injuries. Employees who do not feel good can be agitated and offended more easily, a bad influence on other workers and call off work more often. 

As a result, industrial companies evaluate their work environment stresses, conduct risk assessments and health screenings and have adopted employee wellness programs hoping to counter the negative effects to boost morale and productivity.  

Unfortunately, most wellness programs don’t provide an adequate way to resolve the root issue which is full body pain and discomfort that results from the repetitive stress on feet. While many provide needed time for breaks and change of position and some supply anti-fatigue mats (which also prove to be stationary tripping hazards), the core solution to full body wellness is individual employee foot health. 

An Innovative Solution 

Subsidizing specialized foot products into an employee wellness program or safety program is an innovative solution to keeping workers safe, healthy and on the job. 

Beyond the normal required safety toe, puncture plate or metatarsal guard that protects from accidental injuries, work boots can be specifically constructed with elements to also help relieve and prevent long-term ailments, such as a wider toe box to address diabetic feet or a shank for extra arch support to relieve fallen arches. Providing a proven way to ensure a proper fit is important as well to prevent constriction, pinching, slipping and to secure stability. 

All feet are built differently. Add in physical wear, tear and breakdown from excessive standing and we create a need for personal adjustment to re-establish natural body position and alignment. Custom orthotics built to relieve pressure, reposition foot tissue, tendons and muscles and to realign feet, knees, hips and back will prevent issues, correct current ailments and relieve debilitating pain.  

Compression socks help a body work more efficiently by increasing blood circulation and oxygenation to relieve stress off the heart and brain, preventing blood clots, reducing lactic acid build-up to lower fatigue and distraction errors, adding arch and heel support and protecting sensitive tissue to help alleviate specific ailments. 

The Compound Effect 

When the benefits of multiple products work together to produce an even greater result, you have a compound effect.  

For workers developing foot and body issues and experiencing pain and fatigue, the compounded relieving effect of wearing compression socks and custom orthotics in a properly fitting work boot could prove substantial. 

For example, all three products can profess the benefit of reducing foot and body fatigue. Custom orthotics will do this by providing added cushion and comfort, making sure the body is properly aligned and working efficiently and by helping to reduce pain. Compression socks reduce fatigue by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain and decreasing lactic acid build-up. A good pair of boots will have quality materials in the midsole and outsole to absorb shock and take stress off feet, knees and back to reduce fatigue.  

All three products work in different ways and yet all three have the same resulting benefit of reduced fatigue. While the benefit of using just one is good, the result is even greater when using all three together. 

Another example of the compound effect can be seen with a common specific ailment such as plantar fasciitis. A custom orthotic will help support and relieve the stretch of the fascia ligament while a compression sock will provide firm support in the arch and heel to protect the sensitive tissue and reduce inflammation. Two different products with two different benefits but both address the same ailment to provide a greater result. 

Foot Health Benefits 

Encouraging personal foot wellness products with proper fitting footwear to elevate on-the-job safety empowers employees to improve their physical abilities. They have a way to relieve the stress on their body, feel stronger and healthier and do things longer without pain, on and off the job, giving them an overall better quality of life. This will enhance a company’s perception of care with its employees as well as its commitment to safety thus improving its safety culture. 

When a company invests in programs and products that don’t just focus on the accidental injury but look beyond the minimum safety requirement to ways to ensure long-term full body health, employees perceive that management wants them to stick around a while and increases overall retention. 

Since employees who do not feel good can get easily agitated and offended, the opposite is also true. Healthy employees are slower to anger, less likely to become frustrated, have greater patience, listen better and retain greater information allowing them to be a more proficient, quality worker. As a positive example to other fellow workers, they improve company morale.  

When employees are healthy and pain-free, they have greater energy and are more productive throughout the entire workday. They don’t have a need to call off work to rest or heal an overworked muscle or stressed back. A company will have less time off cases and overtime expenses as well as lower incident rates and repetitive stress injuries. Lower insurance claims along with showing a committed plan for greater employee health to a carrier will lower premiums. 

By focusing on feet as the foundation of full body wellness a company can easily implement a comprehensive solution to improve worker wellness, productivity and performance while reducing risk and liability—all true measures of a successful business.  

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2022

    November December 2022


      The Evolution of Gas Detection
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2022
      Enhance Your Fall Protection Program with Technology
      The Future: How Safety WIll Continue to Evolve
    View This Issue