Don’t Trip Up – Do Your Safety Footwear Homework
Cuts and broken toes or feet, punctures of the soles of the feet, sprains and twisted ankles, electric shock, crushed or broken feet, burns. Not a pleasant sounding list, but these are just some of the common workplace injuries posed to workers across a number of industries, and not just the hazardous working environments you might think!
With potential hazards around every corner, it’s imperative that employers undertake a risk assessment of every working environment and that suitable safety footwear that satisfies the various applicable European safety standards is provided to the worker.
With the construction industry being one of the biggest employers in the country, slip and trip, puncture, dropping and heat hazards are just some of the risks facing workers, but even in industries that we might not associate high levels of risk with, such as transport and logistics, warehousing and even retail, all carry risk of foot injury for workers, from slips and trip, to dropping heavy weights. And even those working in offices face the realistic probability of slips and trips and dropping weights onto feet and toes.
Safety footwear can start with a very unassuming safety trainer or even a court-style safety shoe for women; safety footwear that only the wearer knows is just that. More rugged safety shoes featuring protective midsoles provide more protection, through to safety work boots that protect the entire foot, from the toecap, to the midsole, with internal metatarsal protection, and providing ankle support and protection.
For those working in extremes of temperature, there are safety boots that protect the feet against cold as low as -40 degrees centigrade, and soles that protect against heat up to 300 degrees centigrade. There are boots designed especially to enable the wearer to drive safely and there are metal free boots for those working around electricity.
So as mentioned, the starting point is the risk assessment; analysing each and every potential risk to the worker and their feet. And from there, a suitable set of safety boots, safety shoes or safety trainers can be selected. But it’s not only the employers responsibility though! Workers are under obligation to ensure that they wear adequate safety footwear at all times, or they could be jeopardising, not only their safety, but also their job and any relevant insurance policies.
An overview of the relevant European safety legislation relating to safety footwear can be seen on the Health and Safety Executive’s website here (http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/oms/2009/03/om200903app6.pdf) and a comprehensive array of safety boots, shoes and trainers satisfying the aforementioned safety standards can be seen here: www.gorillasafetyfootwear.co.uk