Safety From The Bottom Up

Feet can get hurt on the job. They can get punctured, crushed, sprained, and
lacerated. A lack of attention to foot safety can also cause slips, trips and
falls, which account for 15 percent of all reported disabling workplace
injuries in Canada.

Feet don't just get hurt while in motion - they also can be injured when
standing in one place for too long. The human foot is designed for mobility.
Continuous standing not only tires the feet but can cause the joints of foot
bones to become misaligned. It can even cause inflammation that might later
lead to rheumatism and arthritis.

To make the problem even worse, people often wear shoes or boots that no foot
could happily endure. Wearing the wrong footwear can cause blisters, calluses,
corns, arthritis, toe malformations, fallen arches, bunions and other problems.

A worker with sore feet is often less alert, and more susceptible to various
injuries at work. The first step to reducing foot problems in the workplace is
to identify relevant hazards. Start with these factors:

How the job is designed

Tasks should incorporate varying body positions that use different muscles. Job
rotation, job expansion and teamwork, as well as frequent short rest breaks,
can all help reduce the toll on your feet.

How the workplace is designed

A workstation should allow the worker room to change body position. A foot-rail
or footrest allows the worker to shift from one leg to the other and reduces
stress on the lower legs.

What we stand on

An unyielding floor, such as concrete, has the impact of a hammer on the feet
when stepped on. Any other type of floor is preferable - wood, cork, carpeting,
or rubber. As a last resort, anti-fatigue matting provides cushioning that
reduces foot fatigue, but should be used with caution.

What we wear on our feet

Fashion can be painful! Pointy-toed, high heels at work are a bad idea anytime,
but not all footwear problems are so obvious. When choosing footwear, look for
the following qualities:

  • The inner side of the shoe must be straight from the heel to the end of the
    big toe.
  • The shoe must grip the heel firmly.

  • The forepart must be roomy enough for the toes to move freely.

  • The shoe must have a fastening across the instep to prevent the foot from
    slipping when walking.

  • The shoe must have a low, wide-based heel; flat shoes are recommended.

  • The shoe must fit. Don't count on it stretching.

  • Shock-absorbing insoles can help cushion the foot from impact.

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety