Foot Injuries in the Workplace: What You Need to Know
Our feet are among the most important parts of our bodies, especially when it comes to working. This is true of any profession that requires considerable time on one’s feet, constant motion, and various types of movement, and even for the so-called “desk jockeys” who spend most of their time sitting down or in front of computer. Our feet get us where we need to go, and we often take for granted just how important they are until we’ve been injured.
Because foot-related injuries are such a major concern in many industries, and because they pose risks of keeping employees out of work for extended periods of time, labor and occupational agencies like OSHA go to great lengths to educate both employers and employees about the risks of foot injuries. For example, data from OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal the following:
- Foot-related injuries are among the most prevalent types of injuries suffered by people in the workplace. Each year, over 50,000 cases of injuries involving feet are reported to the BLS.
- Foot injuries have a high potential for causing employees to miss work, experience decreased productivity, and face significant pain, long recoveries and temporary disability, and even long-term partial or permanent disabilities.
On this blog, our nationally recognized team of workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at Leonard Law Group discuss a few important things to know about foot-related injuries, how to prevent them in the workplace, and the rights of injured workers.
Foot Injury Prevention in the Workplace
Preventing foot injuries begins with safety conscious policies and a personal focus on one’s health. Because certain professions do pose greater risks of foot-related injuries than others, there are also specific precautions workers and employers can take to reduce risks. For example:
Construction Workers – Construction is notorious for being one of the most dangerous occupations, especially when it comes to the multitude of worksite hazards and the potential for serious or fatal injuries. On construction sites where there are risks associated with falling objects, heavy machinery and tools, ladders and scaffolding, open holes, and debris, workers face elevated risks of suffering injuries to their feet. As recommended by OSHA, preventing these injuries requires constant vigilance, as well as compliance with a few essential safety standards, including:
- Routine and adequate work breaks during which workers can rest their feet and rehydrate.
- Using appropriate personal protection equipment or PPE, including anti-slip and puncture resistant shoes that can reduce risks associated with sharp objects and debris, falling tools, and slip and fall accidents.
- The use of overshoes, including composite-toe overshoes that can slip easily over most regular shoes. These are commonly used by managers, temporary workers, and other parties who may visit an unfinished worksite.
Industrial Workers – Industrial workers face many of the same risks as construction workers, as the large workplaces in which they work are often filled with heavy equipment, machines, hazardous debris, and many moving parts. Whether it’s manufacturing, an assembly line, or any other industrial job, workers in industrial settings are also often required to spend significant amounts of time on their feet. Some preventative safety measures to protect industrial workers from foot-related injuries include:
- Workers who perform jobs that require them to stand in the same are or position for long periods of time face risks of foot and back pain and arthritis and posture-related conditions. Focusing on one’s overall health and regular exercise and movement (including during breaks) can help reduce those risks.
- Workers who stand in the same area also commonly experience slip, trip, and fall accidents caused by anti-fatigue mats intended to help address health-related problems. OSHA recommends that workers in these types of industrial jobs opt for anti-fatigue insoles, which can reduce risks of falls and provide continuous support.
- In factories and industrial settings with debris and cluttered floors, sturdy, high-cut, and protective footwear is crucial. Not only can they protect against falling objects (such as a dropped product or tool), they can also provide greater arch support, traction, and ankle protection.
Commercial Drivers – Those who drive for a living, whether they be commercial bus or truck operators or professional or personal transport drivers, face higher foot-related injury risks than most would think. Because they are seated for much of their working hours and only use certain motions with their feet, they are more likely to experience a weakening of muscles, increasing risks for strains, sprains, and even repetitive stress injuries. When job duties require drivers to take action, such as climbing in and out of large vehicles or lifting and loading heavy objects, these factors can create the perfect recipe for injuries. Foot safety measures may include:
- Regular and adequate breaks that allow drivers to rest, stretch, and actively use their feet more than when driving.
- Proper footwear, including shoes with anti-fatigue insoles that provide shock absorption, control, and comfort.
- Insoles with memory foam technology that can reduce stress on the feet.
- Proper alignment and functioning of pedals and any needed step-downs for larger vehicles.
Desk Jobs – Even office workers and those behind a desk can suffer foot-related injuries. Similar to drivers who may not move or walk around as much during the day, desk workers also face risks related to weakened and underused muscles and ligaments. A few preventative measures these workers can take to protect their feet include:
- Taking regular breaks to use their feet, including short walks throughout the day.
- Performing small stretching and foot exercise movements under the desk or during breaks, including ankle rolls or calf raises.
- Supportive footwear to reduce fatigue and provide ample support and comfort.
Injured on the Job in Chicago? Discuss Your Rights: (312) 487-2513
Leonard Law Group is comprised of award-winning Chicago lawyers who have helped thousands of clients throughout Chicago and the state of Illinois following all types of accidents and injuries, including those which occur in the workplace. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, asserting your rights and effectively navigating the workers’ compensation process (or personal injury process in cases involving third party liability) is vital to securing the medical treatment and benefits you need.
If you would like to discuss a potential workers’ comp or personal injury case with a member of our team, contact us for a FREE consultation. Leonard Law Group has recovered over $500 million in workers’ comp settlements and trial awards, and is prepared to put our insight and experience to work for you.