You probably wouldn’t wear a hard hat with an obvious crack. And chances are you’d refuse to attach a safety harness that has a broken strap. But many of us are willing to wear safety footwear that’s in poor condition.
Consider: Our feet and ankles contain 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, all of which require the protection provided by properly functioning and well-fitting safety shoes.
That’s why you should regularly inspect your safety footwear for damage. If you notice, for instance, that a steel toe is protruding, the shoe should be replaced.
If the rubber or PVC parts of chemical-resistant footwear have separated, the shoe should be removed from service. And swap out rubber footwear that has cuts, cracks, or punctures that could allow chemicals to seep through.
Also look at the treads. If any area of a tread is worn out or a tread design isn’t visible, the slip resistance of the shoe has been compromised and it’s time for a new pair.
Here’s a good rule of thumb regarding the replacement of safety shoes: Don’t take chances. If you have any doubt about the ability of your shoes to protect your feet, it’s time for new footwear.
(What are the primary benefits of replacing damaged safety shoes when needed?)
The main reason you want to take damaged footwear out of service is to reduce the chances you could suffer an injury to your feet.
Potential injuries include:
• crushed or broken feet
• amputation of the toes or feet
• punctures of the soles of the feet
• electrical shocks
• sprained or twisted ankles
Of course, you won’t get much protection from these hazards if you’re wearing shoes or boots that don’t fit properly.
That’s why you should shop for shoes in the late afternoon when your feet are most likely to be swollen to their maximum size. Have both feet measured by a professional, and pick shoes that fit the larger foot. Bring a pair of socks that you might typically use at work, and wear those socks for the shoe fitting.
Also: When evaluating a pair of potential new shoes, remember that the instep should fit snugly but not too tightly. If your instep is loose, your heel could slip.
The ball of your foot should rest on the ball of the footwear. If it doesn’t, the ball of your foot could be positioned too far forward, which could force your toes into the toe box.
Thanks for your attention. And remember, let’s stay safe out there!
(From the Aug. 22, 2022, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)