The Sole of Foot Protection Gets to the Heart of Slip Prevention

March 1, 2008
As shown by the study conducted by Liberty Mutual researchers, a number of factors can contribute to same-level slips and falls. Along with flooring materials

As shown by the study conducted by Liberty Mutual researchers, a number of factors can contribute to same-level slips and falls. Along with flooring materials (tile, concrete, carpet, etc.) and conditions (wet, greasy, uneven, etc.), foot protection plays an important role in determining if employees will experience same-level slips and falls in the workplace.

For nearly 25 years, Shoes for Crews has been selling slip-resistant foot protection — first to workers in the food service industry and then to workers in manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality and other industries where slips and falls are a hazard.

In the case of footwear from Shoes for Crews — and other manufacturers — the slip-resistance is found in the tread and in proprietary components in the shoe sole.

Christopher Robertson, director of national sales for Shoes for Crews, says that when potential customers approach him about finding the right footwear for their workplaces, he asks several questions to try to narrow down the selections. First, says Robertson, he wants to know about flooring surfaces and the contaminants on the floors. Next, he wants to know about employees. Are they men or women? Young or old? What are the workers' job tasks? Do they need steel-toed shoes?

“We usually end up with 10 or so options and I tell employers, ‘Take some samples and try them out for a month. Those shoes are yours; put them through the ringer. See what works for you and your employees,’” says Robertson.

Too often, says Robertson, employers purchase slip-resistant footwear after an expensive workers' compensation claim is filed. A customer at a distribution facility did not mandate slip-resistant footwear or steel-toed footwear for employees until the day an employee slipped on water and fell into the path of an oncoming forklift. The forklift ran over his foot, and by the time the medical claims and lawsuits were settled, the employer had paid out $500,000.

“It's at that point,” says Robertson, “when the employer decides, ‘Let's buy everyone slip-resistant shoes.’ But think of the money they could have saved if they bought them before someone slipped.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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