For a lot of people, choosing footwear every day is a matter of style. But for those whose work presents hazards, such as construction workers or truck drivers loading cargo, wearing safety boots or similar gear to protect your feet is a must. Even if your workplace is safe and your occupation relatively risk-free, anyone can experience fatigue or discomfort in their feet. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind next time you dress up for work.
Injuries are costly
Labor statistics show that a median of 8 days are lost whenever a worker gets injured. Some combination of floor or walkways, and worker motion or position contributes to over 50% of workplace injuries, while 80% of reported injury to the feet was due to falling objects.
Aside from workers involved in heavy physical activity, such as construction, transportation, and athletic professions, it was found that employees in food and retail were also at high risk. This is due to the long hours on the job spent standing, which leads to fatigue or discomfort and thus increases the risk of injury.
An injury to the foot impedes our ability to go to work and resume regular activities. Thus, this type of injury is even more costly and often warrants a longer time for recovery.
Different situations and needs
The right footwear can greatly reduce your exposure to certain types of risks, but there’s no single solution that covers everything. Where you work and the type of activity you engage in is the most important thing in determining the best protection for your feet.
If you work on slippery floors, you’ll want good traction on the soles, while if you have long hours of standing or walking, then comfort is a priority. Athletes or fitness workers need to wear something with both qualities.
Industrial workers may risk chemical contact, so a thick and impermeable or liquid-resistant upper provides the best protection. Construction workers often avail of steel-lined footwear.
The comfort factor
The more protective, durable, and resistant your choice of footwear, the better you’ll be able to minimize risks in more hazardous places of work. However, this often comes at the cost of comfort. Materials used to make these items can be very rigid, which places greater strain on our feet. Components such as steel can also drain warmth, and this gets uncomfortable in cold conditions.
Wearing shoes that cause discomfort can lead to fatigue more quickly as the body is exerted more when your movements are awkward. As mentioned earlier, fatigue amplifies the risk of injury. You become less alert and more clumsy. No matter what your type of work or the protection afforded by your shoes, being tired and hampered in your mobility can lead to injury.
What you can do
Staying alert at work isn’t just about being aware of your surroundings. It also relies a lot on watching your own energy levels. Remember to take breaks and ease into different positions to avoid overly stressing any single part of your body.
Make sure your shoes are as comfortable as possible by getting the best possible fit in the store. If it’s still not a perfect fit, using insoles is a common way to add balance and snugness.
For persistent discomfort or situations where your feet have mismatched sizes or uncommon shape, it’s best to consult your doctor to arrive at a solution that works.