On the Job: Foot Injuries in the Work Place
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, June 1st, 2012
Whether we like it or not, many of us spend a huge percentage of our lives in our workplace, and no matter what your work environment is like, it probably offers hazards to your feet. Look at these stats cited in a post from Occupational Health and Safety Online:
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60,000 foot injuries per year result in lost work days.
- BLS cites a study of foot injuries that found 75 percent of the injuries occurred when workers were not in compliance.
- According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the average cost of a lost work day foot injury is $9,600.
- Eighty percent of all footwear injuries are caused by an object weighing no more than 30 pounds impacting the foot.
Don’t think that foot injuries only happen in factories or construction sites either. Slippery hallways in an office building can cause a fall. A job that requires long periods of standing or pounding the pavement all day can cause everything from bunions to fallen arches. Heavy boxes can fall off a store shelf. And while I’ve known plenty of actors or dancers who have gotten foot injuries during onstage, I’ve probably known just as many who’ve shown up at a class or rehearsal on crutches after being injured at their restaurant or catering job.
Work-related foot injuries can probably be divided into three very broad categories:
- Punctures, cuts, sprains, and crushed feet or toes from falling or rolling heavy objects;
- Sprains, strains, and fractures caused by slips and falls, possibly caused by flooring issues, poor shoes, or carelessly placed materials;
- Long-term conditions caused by fatigue from standing (flat feet, bunions, corns, calluses).
For the first category, you’ll probably be sent to the emergency room. For treatment of the second, and especially the third, you can contact a podiatry practice, such as at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).
Of course the best treatment for any injury is prevention. Here are some tips to help prevent foot injuries at work:
- Workers in heavy industrial setting should wear shoes that provide the right kind of protection.
- Shoes with steel or composite toe safety footwear, metatarsal guards, puncture-resistant footwear to protect from heavy, sharp objects;
- Leather safety footwear with synthetic stitching, Rubber, vinyl, plastic, or PVC compound boots or overshoes to protect from chemical or solvent spills;
- Shoes that incorporate an electrical hazard (EH) protective sole and heel for environments where there is a risk of dangerous electrical currents and high voltage.
- Waterproof footwear with non-slip soles for wet environments.
- Workers in restaurants, catering facilities, or other environments where there are wet floors should wear shoes with non-slip soles.
- Workers who stand for a long period of time should wear comfortable shoes that fit right. And no job should require someone to wear stilettos all day (honestly, hair stylists, what are you thinking?!!). If you have this kind of job and begin to experience foot pain, orthotics from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) may help.
- Employers can help prevent foot injuries by making work safety part of everyone’s job: Signs should be put up if a floor is wet; workers should put things away when they’re done, not leave them on the floor; items should be placed securely on shelves, not thrown haphazardly in a way that might allow them to fall.
- Employers can help employees who are required to stand for long periods of time by rotating them more often so they get a chance to sit. If employees don’t have to stand, don’t make them. Standing while working doesn’t keep employees “alert,” it just makes them tired–and causes foot problems.
- Workplace designers can help employees who stand fora long time by using flooring material that has some give, such as wood, cork, or rubber, rather than hard, unyielding concrete. This isn’t possible for every job, but it should be considered when it is an option.
- Finally, everyone can help themselves by keeping an eye out in their workplace. Sure, you’re busy and rushing from place to place, but look out for wet floors, bumps in carpeting, stray electric cords, misplaced objects, or anything else that can cause a fall. And you’ll be able to do avoid these hazards a lot more easily if you aren’t texting while you walk.
I hope this helps you avoid the dreaded workplace injury. However, if you do sustain a foot or ankle injury at work, or anyplace else, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.