According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are an estimated 96,000 foot and ankle injuries every year that result in lost workdays; the average worker’s compensation claim for foot injuries is over $15,000 in medical costs and $11,000 in indemnity. Proper footwear is a vital part of workplace injury prevention.

For employers, one of the best strategies to determine what personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary after utilizing the hierarchy of controls is to conduct a comprehensive PPE equipment hazard assessment that correctly identifies the hazards of the work and the protective footwear needed to reduce foot-related injuries.

Foot-Related Hazards and Injuries 

  • Falling or rolling objects – one of the most common foot-related hazards is objects that can fall or roll onto an employee’s feet. Steel- or composite-toed boots protect against objects landing on employee’s toes. There are also metatarsal guards that provide similar protection for the top of the employee’s feet, which can reduce the severity of midfoot injuries that often require extensive medical treatment.
  • Cuts and punctures – the thick soles and puncture-proof layers of most approved protective footwear can reduce the number and severity of these injuries. Additional protection can be had from metal foot guards. If the work requires employees to work near sharp materials or many puncture hazards, additional protection should be considered.
  • Slips and falls – operations that require work to be performed on wet surfaces, or involve oils that may leak or spill, should require slip-resistant soles. These soles can be part of the actual footwear or even a type of “sandal” that can slip over the employee’s shoes.
  • Chemical hazards – these hazards can lead to significant injuries. Selecting footwear that protects against spills, splashes and accidental exposures is important. These are often made of rubber, vinyl or plastic and need to be evaluated against the specific chemicals that employees could be exposed to. Consult your safety data sheets for specific material requirements for the chemicals you use.
  • Other hazards – proper footwear can help protect against numerous other hazards as well, such as electrical exposures, heat (and flames), hot surfaces, sanitation contamination and sparks to name a few.

Workplace Injury Prevention Strategy: Using the Right Shoes for the Job 

A good way to ensure that the footwear you use is appropriate to the hazards is to look for a rating from a recognized consensus standard. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.136(b)(1) states that protective footwear must comply with any of the following consensus standards: ASTM F-2412-2005 or ASTM F-2413-2005, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z41-1999, or ANSI Z-41-1991.

Footwear that has been tested and rated will typically have a stamp, usually on the tongue of the shoe or boot, indicating the footwear meets the consensus standard.

FCA Footwear Resources

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