Your Feet at Work
Productive workers depend on their ability to function safely, with ease and comfort while at work. When your job requires you to stand for long periods or work in potentially hazardous areas or with potentially hazardous materials, you are at risk for foot injuries. Foot injuries in the work place include punctures, lacerations, crushing, sprains, and fractures. These can be caused by slips, trips, falls, and more. Preexisting foot conditions that cause pain and fatigue can cause serious consequences in the work place. A worker who is tired and in pain is more likely to be less alert and act unsafely, leading to injury.
How to improve foot safety in the work place:
- Identify relevant hazards
- Wear appropriate footwear for your specific occupation. Poor fitting or improper footwear can aggravate existing foot conditions or may not provide the support and protection needed. Make sure your socks fit properly as well and are made of moisture-wicking materials.
- When standing on hard surfaces, wear shoes or boots with thick shock-absorbing soles
- Custom orthotics may be prescribed by your podiatrist to give you extra support, function, balance, and cushion. They are made for your specific condition, shoes or boots, and activity or job.
- When possible, avoid standing in a fixed position for long periods of time; employ job rotation to vary body positions and motions. Frequently perform exercises to keep your joints flexible, contract and relax the calf muscles, and flex and straighten ankles and knees.
- Take frequent short breaks rather than fewer long breaks to rest your feet
- Adjust your work station for comfort and efficiency if possible
- Install a footrest or rail to shift weight from one leg to the other
- If you have a standing job, a chair should be readily available for rest
- Use a cushioned non-slip mat if standing on hard floors, but be cautious of tripping and slipping incidents
Tips for buying work footwear:
- Do not expect that footwear which is too tight will stretch with wear
- Have both feet measured when buying shoes. Feet normally differ in size. Buy shoes to fit the bigger foot.
- Buy shoes late in the afternoon when your feet are likely to be swollen to their maximum size
- Your footwear should be comfortable without compromising protective value
- Consider a steel toe cap with padded interior. If this is painful to wear, then the size or style is incorrect for your foot type.
- Soles come in a variety of thicknesses and materials. They need to be chosen according to the hazards and type(s) of flooring in the workplace.
- Uppers of protective footwear come in a variety of materials. Selection should take into account the hazards, and individual characteristics of the worker’s foot.
- A steel midsole which protects the foot against penetration by sharp objects should be flexible enough to allow the foot to bend.
- A flat to low-heeled shoe or boot with a wide-based heel is usually recommended.
- Consider using shock-absorbing insoles where the job requires walking or standing on hard floors
- No one type of non-slip footwear can prevent the wearer from slipping on every surface type
- Ask a doctor’s advice if properly fitting shoes are not available