Q&A - Foot protection
When it comes to foot protection, what are the best ways for my organization to ensure that workers are in compliance?
ANSWERS:The first step to ensure compliance in the workplace would be to perform a hazard assessment. This should be done with the input of individuals working in the areas where the hazards exist. Some points to address are the impact and compression requirements, the risk of injury to the metatarsal, are there electrical hazards present, does the area require conductive or static dissipative footwear, what are the chemical and slip hazards present and is there a risk of objects puncturing the outer sole.
When performing the hazard assessment, itâ€™s also a good time to address implementing engineering controls that may negate the need for protective footwear or at least lower the risk of injury. As with all PPE, training on the use, care and limitations of the product is essential.
Lastly, keep in mind other factors relating to comfort that will help promote compliance. Address issues such as having to bend frequently to perform the job function (perhaps a flexible fiberglass shank will perform better than a steel one), is the wearer exposed to water (a non-waterproof boot can absorb up to a pound of water) and do the wearerâ€™s feet heavily perspire (would they benefit from a moisture-wicking lining?) Addressing these comfort issues can translate into a higher rate of compliance and productivity.
Alan Dibenedetto, Partner, Distributorâ€™s Safety Shoe Service
First and foremost, employees must clearly understand what the conditions, demands and risks of their jobs are. This understanding allows employees to determine specific performance requirements for their footwear. For example, a cleanroom staff person would probably wear static-dissipating footwear, while work boots with an internal metatarsal guard would put the person at risk of injury in that environment.
With this understanding, employees can consult a safety shoe store to purchase the proper type of work footwear to meet the needs of their working conditions for optimal foot protection.
Mark Morgan, Wolverine Brand Director of Design, Wolverine World Wide
The best way to ensure that workers are in compliance is through education and auditing the footwear that is purchased by the company or employee. A copy of your workplace hazard assessment (as instructed by OSHA) and footwear policy should be posted and openly discussed during safety meetings. This policy should also be conveyed to the safety shoe vendor(s) to help ensure the proper footwear is suggested at the time of purchase.
By selecting approved vendor(s) and providing a subsidy and/or payroll deduction, you will be able to audit the footwear each employee purchases from the information provided on the invoice or by checking the ANSI (soon to be ASTM) label on the inside of the employeesâ€™ footwear.
Rob Mills, Vice President of Business Development, Michelin Footwear
A safety manager needs to perform a hazard assessment for each job category. They should work with an accredited safety footwear vendor in order to become familiar with the types of safety footwear that will help minimize injury according to the hazard assessment evaluations. There should be a written policy by the safety department that clearly describes these hazards and the types of footwear that need to be worn for each specific job category. The employer should prepare a compliance sheet for each job category and have every employee for that job category sign the compliance form.
Palmer Woods, Operations Director, HYTEST Safety Footwear
Generally, when one speaks of organizational compliance, what is really being discussed is the acquisition of a required set of organizational behaviors. That said, it is relatively easy to blueprint some fundamentals necessary to gain a desired result, namely compliance.
Basically, itâ€™s as simple as 1, 2, 3:
1) Communicate: Spell out clearly the urgency involved for acquiring compliance in this particular area. Explain in detail what the history has been and what must take place in the future. Allow your people to thoroughly understand why compliance in this area is important and to share in the responsibility.
2) Facilitation: Lay out the plan for compliance in terms that all team members will comprehend. Your organization is only as good as the weakest link. Do not take shortcuts. Take the time to let all parties concerned know exactly what you expect. Receive a verbal or written acknowledgement from each person to close the â€œaccountability loop.â€
3) Measurement, reward and consequence: To manage you must measure. Set up a check and balance system to assure that people are behaving the way you want them to. Follow-up with rewards for those who do and consequences for those who donâ€™t.
Please note that â€œfootwearâ€ was not mentioned in this brief. The reality is that whatever behavior/compliance is desired, it can be acquired by following the steps listed above.
Randy N. Lubart, Sr. Vice President, Sales, Shoes For Crews, LLC
At SKECHERS, we advise three steps to ensure compliance. First, establish your employeesâ€™ unique needs and outline any potential hazards. Second, educate your employees on your workplace hazards, and, third, require that they choose appropriate ANSI- or ASTM-approved footwear that meets Class 75 standards. Also check that the inside of their shoes are properly labeled â€” a crucial test for compliance.
We often partner with companies to provide SKECHERS Work ANSI- and ASTM-certified footwear that meets Class 75 standards and ensure employees are protected in any environment.
Ted Dissinger, Vice President, SKECHERS Work