One area of our body that we often don't take care of the way we should is our feet. Having the right kind of shoes that protect your feet is important, especially if you're in an industry that requires you to be on your feet for the majority of the day, or that has other hazards associated with it, such as construction work or manufacturing. You may need a specific type of shoe if you work in the medical fields (no slip shoes, for example) or work outside. When you neglect to protect your feet, you could face foot related issues later in life and may open yourself up for other types of injuries, such as slips, trips, or falls, due to improper foot gear. Not only are these painful and inconvenient, but they might cost you in terms of doctor or hospital bills and having to take time off.
Why Is Wearing the Right Type of Work Boots Important?
Wearing the right kind of shoe for your job can help improve safety and reduce the number of accidents that happen in the workplace. Only 20% of workers with foot injuries were wearing safety shoes or boots at the time of their accident, whereas a Bureau of Labor Statistics study of foot injuries found that three-quarters of the accidents happened to workers who weren't following guidelines on safety gear. Additionally, of the injured workers who were wearing the appropriate shoes, such as steel toe boots, 85% of them were hurt because the object fell on an unprotected part of their footwear.
Safety aside, wearing comfortable work boots or other type of work footgear can simply make your day more comfortable. For example, a construction worker or other type of laborer might walk over 30,000 steps in a day. Having the right type of foot wear, like comfortable boots, can help support their feet and reduce the risk of injury.
And it's not just wearing the right type of shoes -- your socks matter too. For example, if a person is on their feet for a significant portion of the day, their feet can give off as much as 200 ml of moisture daily. With shoes that allow for proper ventilation and moisture wicking socks, that person will be far more comfortable during their work day than someone with the wrong kind of foot gear.
How Can a Foot Injury Impact Me and How Can I Prevent It?
The chances that you'll need to take some time off work are pretty high with a foot injury, especially if you're in a job that requires you to be up and moving. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees who have a foot or toe injury will miss at least a week's worth of work.
If your foot, ankle, or toe injury is severe enough, you may also have some significant health issues later on that impact your movement or walking ability. Sprains, fractures, and broken bones can take awhile to mend and you'll want to be extra careful of that area afterwards.
Make sure your workplace has strategies in mind to prevent as many workplace hazards as possible. Is debris being picked up off walking surfaces and placed in appropriate holding containers? Are spills being cleaned up immediately and are those working in the area notified until it's been taken care of? Do you have the right kind of footwear for the job -- whether it's steel toed boots, high traction or heavy duty work boots, or waterproof boots?
In terms of your footwear, to best protect your feet, you should have enough wiggle room in the toe area (ideally your toes should be about 12.5 mm from the top of your boot). Good arch support and good treads are also something to look for.
No matter what kind of workplace environment you have, you should always be taking measures to protect your feet. You'll thank yourself as you get older and more prone to aches and pains! Keep yourself healthy and safe by adhering to workplace safety rules and making sure that your footwear is appropriate for your job.