Let’s face it, most of us spend a very large percentage of our lives on the job whether we like it or not. Truth be told, there is no single work place or operating environment where a worker is 100% immune to foot injury. This is why regulations insist on adequate use of personal protective equipment to help avoid a wide range of foot injuries. The foot works not only to absorb shock as you run, jump, walk and squat, but it also provides a rigid surface to push off on. Aside from the common drop a crate on your foot’ type of injuries, other injuries can result from overuse or wrong foot positioning.
Before we check out some of the most common leg and foot injuries at the workplace, have a quick look at the following statistics.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 60,000 foot injuries result in lost work days annually
- The National Council on Compensation Insurance averages the cost of a lost work day foot injury at $9600
- A study of foot injuries by BLS found that 75 % of injuries happened due to non compliance
- 80 % of all lower foot injuries are as a result of an object under 30 pounds impacting the feet
As stated above, the common causes of foot injuries range far and wide from just dropping something heavy on your foot. Factors like falls, overextension, bodily reactions, compression and repetitive motions are all valid causes of foot injuries. In fact, most workplace accidents and injuries tend to affect the knees, feet and ankles; all crucial to function and mobility.
The Most Common Injuries Reported in the Work Place Include
Crushed or Broken Feet and Toes
This is one of the most common foot injuries at the workplace that could be caused by a lot of hazards at the work place. This includes falling objects or rolling equipment over the feet. Factories and industries with machinery also report this injury on a regular basis as a result of getting feet trapped, caught up or crushed by heavy machinery i.e trucks and bulldozers. If your job involves a risk of falling objects, then you definitely want to give safety boots a try. Go for steel or composite safety toe footwear, metatarsal guards and even puncture resistant, ASTM compliant boots.
Punctures to the Soles
Another injury that really puts workers out of commission worldwide are punctures to the underfoot. While almost every worker is on the lookout for danger from above and in front, it’s the unseen hazards from below that can really catch you by surprise. Since you put your entire weight on the foot when stepping, it’s very easy for nails, broken glass, metal shards or numerous other sharp objects to puncture the average shoe. Fortunately, shoes with puncture resistant insoles and guards should prevent even the toughest nails from making it to your foot.
Burns and Lacerations
This applies for workers in environments with extremely hot temperatures and those that handle excessively hot materials. If your job involves the risk of coming into contact with fire, molten metal splashes, flammable substances or explosive atmospheres, then you definitely want the best protection for your feet. Burns can be very devastating and in addition to causing pain and grief to the workers, they could be out of commission for months. Depending on the degree of burns, some workers could suffer permanent damage to the affected areas. Ensure you wear fire resistant work boots that have been rated safe against extremely high temperatures. You can also want to avoid steel toes and go for composite to prevent temperature conduction.
Frostbite and Amputation
A large percentage of people work in regions or environments where temperatures drop to below zero. Whether you are working out in the snow or packing meat in the company freezer all day long, there’s a real threat of frostbite and other cold related issues. Exposing your feet to extreme cold without the right protection could not only cause discomfort, but it could also lead to permanent tissue damage that will lead to amputation of the toes or the entire foot. Cold feet also slow down progress and can hinder productivity in the workplace. If you work in cold conditions, ensure you wear insulated footwear that captures body heat and prevents it from escaping. Your work boots also need to be water resistant to prevent water from seeping in.
Sprains, Dislocations and Disabling Injuries
Even in a hallway that is smooth and absolutely clear of hazards, one culprit still remains unseen yet very lethal. Gravity is always present and in an effort to make things right, it tends to pull you down all of a sudden. Falls, trips and slips are all very real threats that have led to severe injuries such as sprained ankles, dislocated joints, broken bones and permanently disabling injuries. Wet and slippery environments are a leading cause, but slips and falls also occurs on dry surfaces and ladders. Falls and slips can be prevented by wearing work boots that incorporate slip resistant rubber, crepe and urethane. Additionally, foot wear that wraps around and laces tightly will prevent twisting and spraining the joints.