SUDBURY – Health – Slips, trips, and falls are common in the workplace, but did you know many of them can be prevented? Simply wearing the proper footwear can make a major difference in reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls occurring in the workplace. There is no universal shoe that can be used at work, but choosing the proper shoe can help ensure a safe working environment. Proper shoes in the workplace are an important part of the personal protective equipment which helps keeps you safe.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety estimates that 60,000 people are injured each year due to slips, trips and falls. Living in Ontario, there are many different environmental factors. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario, one in every six lost time claims is due to a fall.
Living in Ontario, there are many different industries and environmental conditions which require different boots to help prevent slips, trips, and falls. Different soles of shoes can behave differently on certain surfaces when compared to others. Common risk factors for slips, trips, and falls are slippery conditions such as ice, snow, oils, grease and even rain. Industrial work involves completely different footwear as opposed to your everyday office job. This is because industrial work has different hazards present which can cause the worker to slip, trip, or fall. Work boots in an industrial setting are often required to have an anti-slip sole. These are durable bottoms, which can aide in keeping the bottoms of your feet safe from impacts/punctures as well as prevent falls on work surface conditions.
Environmental hazards such as snow and ice can be a major hazard for slips and falls. Footwear can be custom designed for cold conditions and extra warmth as well as to provide added friction on ice and snow. There are also snow/ice cleats that slip on the bottom of your boot for added traction while working outside. These are easily detachable and often have metal features on the sole which did into ice for added stability. Depending on the situation, these slip on additions for work boots can be customized for different hazards in the workplace. For example, there are slip on attachments for shoes which can be used of oil and grease, and soapy/waxy wet conditions. If you are working in an auto shop, oil, grease, and normal conditions and having these attachments for your shoes could help prevent a fall.
It is important when buying work boots that the boot be tested and passed for slip resistance. It is recommended that slip resistance footwear has a close-packed well-defined tread pattern, the more edges the sole has, the firmer and the grip. There are codes which are marked on the shoe which will give information on what surfaces the boots are safest for and provide the most protection.
When choosing the proper shoe for you, it is important that it fits properly. Having a shoe which is too large or small can cause discomfort and can cause you to be clumsy on your feet, leading to trips and falls.
So what kind of shoes do you wear at your workplace? Do they keep you protected and keep your feet safe from injury and discomfort? Your feet have to last you a lifetime, which is why it’s so important to protect them.
Robert Diebel is a 4th Year Kinesiology Student at Laurentian University who did his placement at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW). If you require additional information on this subject or any other occupational health subject, please contact us at 705-523-2330, 1-800-461-7120. You can also visit OHCOW at www.ohcow.on.ca/clinics/sudbury