When we think of workplace injuries, we generally don't think about our feet. However, when doing physical work, workers spend a great deal of their time on their feet, and that plays an underrated role in workplace safety.
According to an article by EHS Today, jobs requiring frequent lifting and long periods of standing can result in serious or life-threatening injuries that start with the feet.
Foot injuries can work their way up the body, affecting the knees, hips, and back. They can also increase the likelihood of sustaining future injuries on the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 53,000 foot injuries occur each year. This accounts for 4.8 injured workers per 10,000 employees.
Most common cause of foot injuries on the job
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common factors resulting in foot injuries. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that slips, trips and falls resulted in roughly 44.5 million injuries in the US each year. Factors in slip, trip and fall accidents often include:
- Anti-fatigue mats: For employees who stand for long periods of time, trip and fall injuries are often attributed to anti-fatigue mats.
- Pain in feet: Workers who have pre-existing pain in their feet can experience slow gait and poor balance. This can make slip, trip and fall accidents more probable in the workplace.
- Lack of traction: Traction in a worker's shoes or boots is important to prevent slips. When a floor is slick or wet, slip and fall accidents can happen quickly and unexpectedly.
- Poor floor conditions: Floor surfaces that are uneven, broken, slippery, or cluttered can be a slip, trip and fall hazard for workers.
Balancing safety and accuracy in the workplace
In order to prevent foot injuries in the workplace, the EHS article suggests implementing an insoles program. Wearing insoles can help mitigate foot pain and increase comfort, especially for workers who stand for long periods of time.
Additionally, the article suggests implementing a safety training program to help make employees aware of the risks associated with their job. Employers are also urged to allow employees to take up to two 10-minute breaks per day to sit, give regular reminders to balance safety with accuracy and create a relaxing work environment.