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April 1, 2001 - Closing the Gap

Most of the workers who reported foot and toe injuries in 1998 were not wearing any protective footwear. The gap between regulatory mandate and real-world compliance with foot safety laws is vast in many industrial settings, representing both a major opportunity for Personal Protective Equipment suppliers and a serious liability for employers.

The OSHA standard for foot protection sets these general requirements: "The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee's feet are exposed to electrical hazards." But, according to OSHA's Fact Sheet "Protect Yourself with Personal Protective Equipment," only one in every four workers who suffered a foot injury was wearing safety shoes or boots at the time of an accident.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the usage of hard hats, face shields, safety eyewear, and hearing protective devices was even worse, or only marginally better, among injured workers. OSHA requires employers to furnish, and employees to use suitable protective equipment where there is a "reasonable probability" that injuries could be prevented by such equipment. For example, "for protection against falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot surfaces and wet, slippery surfaces, workers should use appropriate foot guards, safety shoes, or boots and leggings," the agency said. "Safety shoes should be sturdy and have an impact-resistant toe. Shoes must meet ANSI standards." To avoid work site hazards, proper protection should always be used. But sometimes even wearing protective footwear is not guaranteed to prevent injury. According to OSHA, 85 percent of workers who suffered foot injuries while wearing safety shoes, were injured because the falling object hit an unprotected part of their shoe or boot.

Thus, a comprehensive approach to foot protection is essential. Impact hazards are the prime concern, but the assessment should also take slip-and-fall hazards into account. Also, employers and employees should remember that some industries are more dangerous and ultrahazardous than others. Construction, warehousing and material handling, hot work, and demolition activities are unusually hazardous. Injuries are particularly troublesome for employees who work outside in icy conditions or at any time in slippery environments, such as inside walk-in freezers. However, workers in the service industries are also not immune from injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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