Trends in ... foot protection

Choose carefully when it comes to safety footwear

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

For workers in industries such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing, wearing proper footwear can mean the difference between avoiding a foot injury and recovering from one.

Selecting the right footwear can be tricky. “The most common mistake is wearing inappropriate footwear for the hazards presented at the jobsite,” said Palmer Woods, general manager at Rockford, MI-based HYTEST Safety Footwear. This often happens when an employee chooses safety footwear based on personal taste rather than function, or when an employee wears an athletic-type boot in a heavy-industry environment, Woods said.

With so many options available in safety footwear, selecting the right footwear can be difficult. The solution, Woods said, is retaining help. He recommends employers ensure their workers are wearing the correct footwear for the job by “having footwear professionally fitted by a trained safety footwear specialist providing the correct safety footwear specified by the safety manager for the specific job.”

PPE manufacturers also are striving to find new and better ways to protect workers. One trend is producing footwear that is lightweight, yet still safe, Woods said. “This is evident in metatarsal guards that have a Poron cushion layer over the top of the foot,” Woods said. “This still provides metatarsal protection, but the material is much [lighter] weight while maintaining industry standards.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month ... Hand protection

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