Using the right footwear for the task at hand can make all the difference. Foot injuries, slips
and trips, comfort and fit, the hazards presented, and different types of protection are all things
to factor in when making your selection.
Join Bryan McWhorter as he…ahem….’walks’ us through the following when it comes to
protecting those amazing pieces of machinery at the ends of our legs:
1. Foot Injuries
2. Slip, Trip, and Fall hazards
3. Review of OSHA Foot Protection Requirements
4. Safety Footwear Program
5. Comfort and Fit - How to choose the right size and style for comfort
6. Introduction to the world of protective footwear - Tips on what to look for
Tiffany:Hello, and a warm welcome to everybody! We would like to wish everyone a good morning, a good afternoon, or a good evening, depending on where you are in the world. My name is Tiffany, and I'm a part of Safeopedia. Safeopedia’s mission is to support the EHS professionals, operational folks and any safety minded individuals with free safety information, tools and education. I'd like to extend a huge thank you to those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis.
Just a reminder, the webinar is being recorded, and we’ll send out a link to the recording to everybody in a few days. This webinar is for you, the audience, so we'll keep it interactive. Get your questions into the GoToWebinar console as we go, and we'll get to them at the end of the presentation.
Today, we're proud to present, “Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Foot Protection and Slip Hazard Prevention”. This Safeopedia webinar is being presented by Tingley, a preferred member of Safety Network. Safety Network demands excellence, so demand Safety Network.
It is now absolutely my pleasure to introduce to you today's presenter, Bryan McWhorter. Bryan is a productivity expert and safety professional with over 10 years’ experience in implementing and teaching safety, leadership, and productivity tools. He gained much of his knowledge and experience through over 30 years as a supervisor, safety officer, and senior trainer in the manufacturing industry at the largest fluorescent lighting factory in the world. We're also fortunate today to be joined for the Q&A by Rob Peterson, Senior Product Manager of Footwear at Tingley. I’m very grateful to have you sit back, relax and enjoy this webinar. With that, Bryan, please take it away.
Bryan:Thank you, Tiffany! I definitely want to thank Safety Network, and also Tingley, for providing this great information. And thank all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us. And we have a lot of really good information that we’ll be able to provide for you that will definitely enhance your foot protection and slip, trip hazard type program as part of your safety management system.
So, “Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Foot Protection and Slip Hazard Protection”. So, let's dive in.
Well, in a moment, we’ll dive in. There we go. For some reason at the beginning of these webinars, my PowerPoints always want to freeze on me.
So, what are we going to cover today? We're going to look at foot injuries and slip hazards, foot protection requirements — it's always kind of nice to know the compliance side of things — the expectations promotion, other regulatory agencies. We’ll look at safety footwear programs — so, matching the right footwear for the environment and the hazards, comfort and fit. Comfort is always important. We want to choose the right size and style for comfort, and then introduction to the world of protective footwear. We’ll look at the types of footwear that's available today and give you some really good tips on how to choose and look for the right footwear.
So, with that, let's begin with that first bullet item there: Foot Injuries and Slip Hazards. And if you've been involved with safety for a while, you know this is always where we begin. When we're looking at any safety topic at all, it's going to start with that hazard assessment, assessing the problem. So, the formula we're always looking at is: What's the hazard, what's the risk associated with the hazard, and then what's a good control measure.
So, when looking at today's topic, according to the National Safety Council, 134 workers were killed in falls on the same level in 2016. So, again, we're talking same surface falls. These are people that were injured from falling off a step stool or a ladder but same surface. It's really important to recognize how dangerous a fall is. If you're an adult that's even five foot nine, that means your head is covering five feet between the standing position and striking a hard surface.
By this point in my career as a safety professional, I have done well over 500 accident investigations, including a lot for slips and falls. In almost always when you're talking about a adult slipping and falling, there is some type of injury: from tweaking a muscle to bracing yourself and breaking your wrists, to being knocked unconscious. So, it's definitely something worthy of attention and constant vigilance.
That brings me to that second step here. Slips occur from loss of friction between the foot and the walking surface. Throughout the course of our day and our routine, we might walk on lots of different surfaces. We can't always control the surface we're walking on. Our best bet for protecting ourselves and hedging our safety in this regard is wearing the appropriate footwear, where the sole of that shoe provides some type of friction between you and the walking surface. So again, here, injuries of this nature are 100% preventable.
If you look at safety overall, statistics always tell us that over 90% of all injuries are caused by unsafe conditions or an unsafe behavior. Largely, when I talk about that 90%, it’s from an unsafe behavior. In other words, the control measure was disregarded. There’s something that could have been done that was not. So, I'm glad to really present this information today. Again, there's a lot of good information that Tingley has brought us that I would suggest as we go through. Maybe it might be hard to do today, but when the recording comes out, create kind of a check sheet of all the great tips and information you find in this. Great information for training and just to keep in front of you because, again, a lot of this commonsense stuff is easily disregarded. Also, because we just don't think about what we're doing on our day to day stuff.
Continuing to look at the size and scope of this problem. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 60,000 foot injuries occur every year. Again, 60,000. 80% of the foot injuries are caused by objects that weigh 30 pounds or less. Again, if I go back to my accident investigations, I was always amazed. I'm still amazed by how little amount of weight is required to break the bones on the top of the foot, or cause a contusion, or a significant injury. It really doesn't take much. The top bones, metatarsal area and the top of the foot, is just very susceptible to injury.
Okay, foot and leg injuries can cause, can result in permanent disabilities such as partial or complete loss of walking ability. Even, you know, it could jeopardize that employee’s ability to do the same job after returning to the workforce.
Well, I mentioned at the beginning of this that, you know, this is a — when you're looking at slip, trips and foot protection, it's a very important part of your safety management program. In that, you know, usually when we're talking PPE, we're talking about that PPE protecting the part of the body that it is designed for. So, like, safety glasses, protect your eyes, you know, earplugs for protecting your hearing. But when we're talking footwear and foot protection, because of the dangers involved with slipping or same surface fall, we're talking about protecting the entire body. So again, everything is somewhat amplified in terms of scope and the possibility for risk of injury.
Well, when we look at it from the scopes or perspective of different types of work, they all have a unique form of hazards that they could possibly present when we're looking at today's topic of foot injuries or slips and trips. So, the footwear that is needed for these is going to be unique and specific to those areas and types of work: for construction, manufacturing, electrical, emergency response, landscaping, transportation industry, and even restaurant retail work.
If you're standing on your feet for long hours, as in retail or whatever where you're on a hard surface, that shoe is what's going to help alleviate stress to your knees, your hip, your back. So, again, it just amplifies the importance of choosing the right footwear for the environment, the work that's being done. And as we go throughout the webinar, we'll talk about these in a little bit more detail.
Okay, Tips and Considerations. Now, this is kind of beginning to dive into what I was talking about earlier in that, the information that Tingley’s is provided for us here makes great check sheet format. It's almost more information than you can remember. And a very important aspect of all safety is training, getting it to where your employees and the people you interact with see and understand the threats and all these great tips, and maybe they use them not only at work but in their personal life. Again, it doesn't matter if someone gets injured at home or at work, and the bottom line of them being injured and impacting their life.
So, that kind of takes me into this first one here. Falls are the number one cause of death for older adults. So, fall-proof your home if you residents that are older than 65. Now, I'm younger than 65, but I've already learned in life that gravity is not always my friend. So, again, great idea.
Keep the floors and surfaces clear of clutter. We're always looking to get control of our work environments. If you've heard of something called 5S +1, it directly impacts us. The idea is that you set a standard for your work environment where the floor is always clean. The problem with clutter is it hides issues. You might have a work area where you've got trash cans and different objects that are always moving around. And now there's an extension cord that's kind of strewn across it and or a spill, and it's just not noticed because it blends into the clutter. So, we want to always create organization and create a standard where safety is a consideration, where if a problem or a hazard becomes uh, is all of a sudden there, we see it immediately. You don't want to discover when someone is hurt. We want to see it as soon as it's created.
Keep file cabinets and desk drawers closed. This is one of those things I mentioned about just, you know, commonsense. The thing is that, we are habitual. You know, the things that we do, we form habits. So, we need to get into the habit of if you open a door or a drawer, close it. We might be knowing that we're going to work at that drawer for 15 minutes, you're going back and forth to it, but still the habit is to get it closed. Otherwise, what these things, especially that we're looking at on this PowerPoint, these are often deals where we create the hazard that someone is going to suffer for. And, again, I think of the x investigations I've done where someone did something, and someone else got hurt. Oh, you know, we hate being in those positions.
The electrical cords, keeping electrical cords and phone cords out of track areas. Again, this is one of those bad habits that we can get into of using, say, an electrical extension cord. It’s kind of a permanent fixture. We plug something that needs to be using an extension cord, and a week later stow that away. Well, not only is that a violation of OSHA, it's a violation of fire code. Anything that is permanent needs to be hardwired with conduit and set up in a safe fashion to code. We don't want to stretch out electrical cords over pathways or places where people can trip over them. So, again, when you're using something that isn't normally on the ground, letting people know about it, maybe setting up cones or something to get people's attention. But this is what I mean by check sheets, look for these scenarios and make sure your employees know that hey, if you have to do this, it's temporary, let people know and put something that gets their attention or fasten, zip it to the floor in some way.
Install handrails and stairways. Every now and then, I'll help new accident — er hazard assessment walkthrough, you know, safety walkthroughs. And I'll still find stairways in buildings that just they didn't build the handrails for. I was with a company here a while back, several years ago, where we did a hazard assessment in several departments. We found several stairways that just, when they built the equipment — and these were stairways along sides of large pieces of equipment — they had no handrails. So, again, we had a company coming in and put the handrails in them. So, again, commonsense makes sense and makes them compliant.
Wear sensible footwear. We'll talk about this a lot throughout the entire webinar, so I’ll kind of skip this one for now.
Never stand on chairs, tables, or any surface with wheels. Now again, this goes under that commonsense that, well, yeah, you know, not to stand on something with wheels. But if I'm addressing, if you're an adult that’s 30-years-old or older, I guarantee at some point, you've probably done this. We are, again, creatures by nature that follow certain motivators. There's some called the motivational triad, which are three things that dictate all of what we do, and they are the desire for reward, avoidance of pain, and conservation of energy. All three of those work against us when it comes to safety.
As an example, say I'm in an office, and I have a light bulb that goes out. I need to change that light bulb. I don't have a ladder handy. Now the desire for reward here is getting the light bulb changed. Conservation of energy, I could go look for a ladder, but you know what, my chair, I've stood on it before. It’s here, I can use it. And that avoidance of pain, usually when we're talking avoidance of pain, we're talking emotional pain at just getting something done. We're not talking about getting hurt because there's something in our psyche that tells us we're not going to get hurt. We just don't fear things. I often joke when I tell people that, you know, when I got out of bed this morning, I broke my record for most days spent on the planet without dying. So, what are the odds I'm going to do something today that's going to do myself in. So, again, we need to make these things a habit. And remember, people follow our example at work. So, don't allow anyone to stand on anything with wheels. If it's not designed for us to get on it and work on it, you know, design steps to a ladder, then don't use it to climb on.
Properly arrange furniture to create open pathways. You know, I'd even say with this, if you've got environments, like, you've got people that are working in construction sites or landscaping, things like this have designated areas for supplies, tools. So, again, have standards and check sheets in place to make sure that there are walking pathways that are clear. This is truly one of those items, again, where I've done x investigations where, okay, we have a pathway that is always clear. Day in, day out, it’s clear. But then, someone has a palette that need to sit down for a little while or a box. Well, now, when people are walking that area, their eyes are on their phone, checking messages or whatever, they trip on it, and now we have a severe injury, and someone that feels horrible because, I guess, set a booby trap by setting something in a pathway. So, again, commonsense but something easily disregarded.
And this last one, maintaining good lighting indoors and out. This is something to where every year there are injuries due to lack of lighting. And this is something that OSHA will also cite you for if you have people walking or working in areas that are insufficiently lit. I have a good friend of mine who's a safety professional who has a favorite saying that I often quote that, “Never let your feet go where your eyes haven't gone first.” If you can't see what's ahead of you, it's an issue.
Okay, continuing with the scope of this problem, about 9.2 million people were treated in emergency rooms for fall related injuries in 2016. And again, this isn't out of the ordinary. Every year, slips, trips and falls send people to the ER more than any other type of event. So, it is definitely something that is part of your safety management program, you need to give regular attention, vigilance to and lots of good training to your employees, so they recognize.
Okay, now we've been talking about the problem, the hazard, the why we're here today. Now, let's look at the compliance side of things.
Anytime you've got injuries to the magnitude that we've been sharing with you here, you can bet OSHA and other regulatory agencies are going to have something to say about it. So, OSHA's foot protection standard, 1910.136(a), requires protective footwear to be used when employees are working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or where such employees’ feet are exposed to electrical shocks. And also, say, chemicals, heat, anything that can as a hazard that's identifiable, you need footwear that acts as a control measure to protect people. So again, it is the main control measure for a lot of the risks associated with hazards we're going to talk about today, such as falling objects, piercing the sole like a nail or a piece of glass coming up through the shoe, slip protection. We'll talk more about this as we go throughout. This will be a common theme with us today. Electrical hazards, there's, again, a whole host of really considerations you need to look at when people working around electricity. And again, we'll talk about that more a little bit later. But this is one of those where you definitely have to be compliant, and make sure that people have the appropriate clothing and footwear to do that type of work.
Standing long hours, as I mentioned, in the glass factory I had worked before, it was 12-hour shifts, working on cement. And that footwear was actually the main thing that we could use to protect our employees from long hours of standing on concrete. They couldn't stand on rubber mats because we had such a large area that people were working around. So, having that right shoe that had the right fit, the right boot, that provided comfort and taking stress off their knees or hips or back was really important.
And again, uneven surfaces. Remember, like I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of different surfaces out there. And maybe you cannot control all the things that you're going to have to walk on through the course of the day. Your best bet is to choose the appropriate footwear that provides the support, the sole, the protection, that kind of helps hedge your bet. So again, that bottom of that shoe is what's going to provide your best friction to help keep you from slipping.
Okay, so let's move on to number three: The safety footwear program. We've looked at the hazards, the problems, the control measures, and compliance. So now we're going to kind of start tying it together. We want to match the right footwear for the environment and the hazard. So now, we're talking about digging deeper into those safety control measures.
So, these are attributes or features that you might want to have as kind of a check sheet for different work that’s being done to make sure that these control measures are there for those risks that — for instance, this first one. If you are in a manufacturing or construction environment where you’re dealing with objects that can lacerate or cause an abrasion to the foot, then again, having a cut and abrasion resistance protection is an important part of that control measures that you need for foot protection.
Toe impact, compression protection. That's having that metatarsal protection and steel and composite safety toes. And again, the science with this has come a long way to where you can get, find lots of different types of very comfortable shoes and boots that have this.
Puncture resistance is like I mentioned earlier, if you're working in an environment where there are nails or something that can poke through the bottom of that foot, then you need the right type of shoe that provides protection from that.
Electrical shock protection. Again, we've already talked about a little bit. We’ll mention more a little later on.
The slip resistance, again, making sure you have the right bottom shoes that will give you the friction you need for the environments you're dealing with.
The liquid protection not only for getting the shoe wet and slips, but you might have to consider vapor protection and chemical protection. If that chemical is something that could injure the foot if it comes in contact with it, then a regular shoe doesn't provide that type of protection.
So now let's roll into comfort and fit. And again, this is one of those areas that's important to all of us. If you're like most of us, if you buy a new safety shoe or boot because you need it for work, you're most likely going to wear that until it wears out. So, six months to a year, you're going to wear what you decided to purchase. So, everyone wants to look good, okay, but choosing the right footwear based on comfort is much more important than styling. I think a Billy Crystal's old character of, you know, you look marvelous. It's better to look good than to feel good. At this stage of my life, I couldn't disagree more. Comfort rates high to me. And these days, the neat thing is what we’ll show you through this webinar and the information that Tingley has provided is, you can have the best of all worlds. You can find a shoe or a boot that meets your safety needs, acts as a control measure, is very comfortable, and has the style you're looking for. Even knee boot, mid-calf, ankle length, you know, athletic, whatever you want, I guarantee there's something out there. It's pretty amazing how far we've gone with the industry in providing selections for us.
Now, again, what I talked about earlier commonsense. Here's one of those very easy tips that someone who's worked, say, on their feet for long hours knows, but we often forget or disregard. The best time of day to try on new footwear is at the end of the workday. Feet will swell throughout the day, especially if you've been working for 8, 10 hours or more. So, it's important to account for this when purchasing or trying out boots or shoes.
Okay, I kind of chuckle at myself, and the reason I read this with such emphasis is, again, I've been involved with safety for many, many years starting around 2007. As a mechanic working in a large work environment, you know, it goes back to my early 20s. So, I know this. But about two years ago, I had to go out and buy me some new steel toed shoes, and I did everything wrong. I went there on a day off because it was convenient. I bought the first shoes that felt comfortable. Then the first day I wear them at work, man, by the end of the day, my feet felt like they were in a vise. I was miserable. I never wore those shoes again. I gave them away.
So, this and all the other tips we're about to provide for you are things that, again, a good idea to have written down and used as considerations when you're going to go make those selections, when you're going to go do those purchases. So, support and comfort in footwear is determined by a variety of design parameters and components, lots of different features. So, when choosing boots consideration of the following will give you the best chances for ensuring your feet are comfortable all day. Again, we're going to most likely wear what we purchased for the next six months or a year until they wear out. We're wearing it for eight hours or more a day, so we want to make good selection. So, again, a check sheet fashion. Let's review these.
Insoles – Are they removable for easy cleaning and overnight drying? And again, this is one of those features that I meant I love. I will look for this and choose, I purchase. If it's removable, that's great, makes them easy to change out. And again, let them dry out when they're sweaty. How much cushioning do they provide? You know, the insoles. Are they flat or contoured? Will they compression set after just a short period of time?
Arch support – Again, look for boots with steel shanks or molded in shanks so that the arches are supported. Again, this is what helps alleviate pressure and keeps that shoe or boot comfortable.
Beveled Heels – Look for a slight beveling.
And toe spring – Look for boots that have a slight upward rise on that outsole.
Heel cup – How does your heel fit in the boot or shoe? Remember, when we walk, we often strike with our heel first, right? So again, this is something really important to have a good fit with and comfortable, especially if you're doing a lot of walking or moving around through the course of the day on a hard surface or hard ground.
Boot weight – Are lightweight options available? Lighter weight is important for anti-fatigue consideration. I mentioned those first shoes I bought, which I gave away. I did a little research before I bought my second pair, and I found that there were lots of ultra-light, steel toe basic compression, er composite toed, shoes out there. But I found a pair that matched in weight the same type of shoes I would use for running. So, a very lightweight shoe that I actually found myself wearing them on weekends when doing a lot of work. I would love to say that I was doing it because I'm safety oriented, but the truth was they were just really comfortable. So, I liked wearing them.
So, continuing with comfort and fit. Okay, some more tips, again, in that check sheet fashion. Shoes should not pinch your feet. Again, makes sense, especially when you consider that swelling factor. They should not — you should not feel the toe caps against your toes. And I can't help but think, you know, and especially talking to us guys on this. Remember we just tend to buy and go. So, again, good considerations guys when we're doing our shopping here. Shoes that are either too narrow or too wide will cause discomfort over time. Again, needed the right fit.
If your feet tend to perspire, look for moisture-wicking or leather. Walk around up with your shoes on before buying them to test the fit. That first time, I didn't walk around at all. I think I stood up in them and then called it good. Allow for potential swelling of the feet.
We talked about put safety first, comfort second, and then look for style. I love that bullet item because that basically covers everything we're talking about today. Remember, we're looking for our safety shoes or boots acting as control measures. It's our safety protection for our foot and against slips. So, safety first, comfort second, then go for the style.
Don't forget to wear quality socks to aid in your comfort. The older I got, the more I learned how important that was. Yeah, again, if you're working long hours, choosing nice thick socks really go a long way for helpful with that comfort.
So, let's start to put all this together, okay? Now, when looking at it as part of your protection safety program, you're looking at footwear as a control measure to help protect the feet and to help protect against long hours. So, that first consideration is still that hazard. What type of work environment are you in? So as with any other piece of protection or personal protective equipment, an effective foot protection program begins with a thorough workplace assessment. So, understanding those hazards and the risk associated with a hazard is that starting point. The assessment needs to consider hazards that may either directly affect employees’ feet or that may affect workers through their feet. For example, slips, trips, falls, chemical spills, weather (hot, cold), things along this line. So, we're going to cover some of those risks right now and look at compliance and the features that you need or control measures to make sure people are safe.
So, if you've got people that are dealing with chemicals, corrosions, corrosives, toxic materials, anything to where a normal shoe is not going to provide protection. And also, you know, it provides a chemical reaction that can penetrate a shoe and hurt the foot, then you need footwear that provides obvious protection for that. And again, for all of these, there's actually regulatory guidelines, or actually rules and laws, that you need to follow. So I would suggest when you're looking for footwear for any of these, you look at the documentation that the manufacturer created for those shoes and boots and make sure that it meets the compliance with any agency rules or laws that go with that specific hazard and the control measure that you're looking at that shoe or boot providing.
Sharp objects, again, like wires, metal shavings, nails, things along this line. Again, if I go back to working in glass, or a piece of glass can poke under the shoe, so again, you need to make sure it's compliant, and able to handle that type of hazard. If you have objects or tools that can provide lacerations to the top of that foot (rotating blades, chainsaws) then again, you need a shoe or a boot that has steel toe, that compression, that metatarsal protection, across the top of that foot.
Okay, now we're getting into severe weather. So, ice, cold, rain, environments where workers might have frostbite or trench foot. Then again, we need a boot or shoe that's going to keep their feet dry and provide insulation to protect their feet from the cold. I've seen workers that had to work indoors and freezers in the food industry. So again, something like this was a consideration for them even working indoors.
Now we're going to go to the other end: hot work. So, burn hazards such as molten metal, work surfaces, and roofing or paving industry, fires. If you've got people that do any type of pot work, again, their shoes or boots need to be able to protect their feet from whatever that hot material is that they're dealing with.
Then falling and rolling objects. Now we're back to looking at again making sure that the metatarsal and toes are protected. The steel or composites that are compliant and show that your employees are protected from the risk associated with that type of an injury.
And the last things we’ll look at is the slips and the electric hazards. Now, slips being a constant theme all through this webinar. And again, you want to pick shoes or boots with bottom soles that provide friction. Again, there's lots of different surfaces we're going to walk on out there. Our shoe or boot is probably our best bet at providing good control measure for coming into contact with different surfaces.
And all these last boots really do with electrical, from everything from static electricity to doing hot work. I've worked with electricians who had to deal with transformers and high levels of electricity, arc flash. So, again, when you're getting into these fields, there are compliance, considerations. So once again, you want to look at the documentation for those shoes or boots and make sure they are compliant to meet the needs for regulatory to protect you from the associated risk and hazards you're dealing with. So, these are very specific. So again, when doing electrical work, look at the type of hazard, the amount of electricity, what hot work you're going to be involved with, and make sure that those shoes or footwear are compliant with those agencies. And then, again, you've done due diligence to protect yourself or whoever is wearing that.
So again, we provided you more information that I guarantee you're going to remember from that 30-minute presentation. So again, I really suggest when this comes out as a recording that you go through it again, and you create a check sheet, or you capture some of the stuff from a training perspective so that your employees really understand it. The idea of slip trips and falls and foot protection is somewhat elevated in their mindset because, again, when we go to work, we're going to get the job done. Safety is not necessarily what we're thinking about. So, we need to really constantly brought to our attention. Safety is either proactive or is inactive. So, with that, we'll go ahead and take your questions.
Tiffany:Great presentation. Thank you, Bryan! This is a quick reminder to get your questions in as we will now be starting the Q&A session. We'll start off with some questions that came in during the registration process. From Aleli, “Can you recommend a safety footwear for a surface that can also be used on concrete floor?” Or we have a similar question about how to address the transition from non-icy surfaces to icy surfaces with the same footwear.
Bryan:Now again, I'm going to refer to Rob to really give you maybe a deeper answer on this, but for me, it really does go back to looking at what the manufacturer designed that footwear for. So again, making sure that you've got the best type of material, and design in the sole, and tread on the bottom of it to be able to handle those transitions. I've worked in an airport environment when I was going to college in Kansas where we did have to do exactly what you're talking about: go from ice to cement kind of on a regular basis throughout the winter. So, we needed to know that we were, when we were quick turning a jet around, walking really quickly that we had the best traction that we could get for dealing with snow. So, Rob, do you have something that you can kind of throw in on that?
Rob:There's been some attempts at making, you know, coatings or the ice traction studs that you break off from the bottom of the outsole, flip it around, and then re-put it on the bottom of the outsole, but it turned out it was a great idea, but it just turned out to be impractical. What we usually tell people in those types of situations is to go with something that's pull on or a stretch on. It's a little nice that you kind of just put your, you put your toe into and then you just stretch it across, and it adhere at the back of heel. That seems to be the best solution at this time. But yeah, that was a good question.
Tiffany:Great! Thank you, Rob. I have another question about, “What test methods are used to evaluate the slip resistance of footwear?”
Bryan:Yeah, really good question. Really, the American Society of Testing Materials are about the only test that I know of really at this point that really look at slipping or friction. So, they have tests that they do called the F2913, where what you're looking at is measuring the co-efficiency of friction and evaluating the slip performance of the footwear on different surfaces, wet and dry. My understanding with the tasks — and again, Rob, you might have more information on this. This isn’t anything I really dig in too much. But my understanding is they also measure people's gait and just different ways that they strike your foot on it. So yeah, do you know more about that?
Rob:Yes, actually, Tingley is a — we sit on the ASTM committee that deals with this, the ASTM F2913, as Bryan mentioned. It is one of the standards that ASTM publishes. Basically, there are two main types we deal with. There are test method standards, and there are also performance criteria standards. And as this presentation pointed out, or as Bryan pointed out, slips, trips and falls are a huge hazard in the workplace, and a great source of injury. And believe it or not, there is, at the present time, there is no performance criteria in the US by which manufacturers can make a claim that their footwear is or is not slip resistant. It's unbelievable, but that's the state of affairs.
And throughout history, the ASTM has issued a number of test methods to assess co-efficience of friction and things like that, but they've had to — all have had to have been withdrawn for one reason or another until we got to the 2913. Now that is the only published standard right now by the ASTM that managed, that assesses. It's a test method that assesses co-efficience of friction for the whole shoe. And as Bryan was indicating, it's a great test, it's a robust test. They do assess the different stages of a gait. So, there are heel strikes. There's a coefficient of friction for the heel strike, there's a coefficient of friction for the forward flat, basically that portion of your walk where your foot is flat against the ground. And then the final portion of your gait or walking stride is that portion where your toe is pushing off against the ground and propelling you forward. So, they're assessing coefficience of friction for that footwear in all three stages of your stride. And then that test goes another layer further where they'll assess the coefficience of friction in those three portions of your stride under various conditions like dry, wet, oily, soapy wet, and soapy oily. So, it's a really great and comprehensive test. It has finally been adopted by the ASTM. It's gone through all of its inter laboratory studies.
And now, we have a platform on which we can conduct tests, we can achieve values, in this case, coefficience of friction. And then we can use those values to establish performance criteria. So, it's an iterative process, and I think the ASTM is on the right track.
Tiffany:Great! Thank you, Rob and Bryan. I have a question from Steve about the sizing of shoes. Bryan, you touched on that the shoes shouldn't necessarily fit too comfortable. Would you recommend sizing up, or are sizes going to transfer over one to one and these choose will have that sort of extra room?
Bryan:A really good question especially that's one of those I think we all kind of waffle with. And I love — I'm going to refer here at the end again to Rob. I love that we have Rob here. I'm going to kind of show my hand in that. I'm not an expert in this field, but I'm someone who's had to deal with it like you guys as a safety professional. So, you got two great perspectives here. You got someone who's had experience with having to develop footwear and foot protection programs. But then you have someone who's an expert in the industry who can, you know. I'll be honest, these the people like Rob are the ones that I would rely on. So, the reason I say that is I'm going to give my answer, then we'll let Rob kind of chime in and give us the right answer.
You know, again, as a guy, my first plan is always just to get the shoe and get out of there like I did that first time, and I totally blew it by not accounting for the swelling that my foot is going to do through the course of a normal day. So, I've kind of gotten into a habit with myself of, you know, if it's right after work or whatever, my feet do tend to swell. Over time, I’ve learned that it's about a half size to a full size. So, I tend to never buy shoes that are, you know, like if I were to go in and try on a pair of shoes right at the beginning of the day, and I had to buy a shoe for some reason, I would probably up and a half a size by that. And again, that's probably not the right way. But again, that's kind of… If I can't redo the condition by going in right after work, then yeah, I’m going to up it a little bit. And as a runner, I would do the same thing for running shoes, and usually it works okay for me. But now, Rob, give us the correct answer.
Rob:Well, yeah, I'll just add to what you said, Bryan, because I think what you said was accurate. We at Tingley, we kind of, we have a little tongue-in-cheek. We like to say that it all starts with the last. And that is the basic foot form or foot shape around which your footwear is constructed or your molding, your tooling, is built. And I'll be honest, as a manufacturer, it's a challenge for us to develop tooling that would do half sizes, or that would do wider width. So, we basically rely on anthropomorphic measurements and tables. We work with well-known industry last designers, and we try to come up with the with the greatest or best fitting last that fits the widest number of people, or largest number of people.
But to directly answer your question about whether or not you should size up, we generally recommend that when you're stuck in the middle between a whole shoe size, that you do size up. You can sometimes put in a thicker insole that might help to take up some of the room that would be inside of the shoe cavity. And then you could also try different types of socks to sort of help fill out any space that would be inside that that foot cavity.
Tiffany:Yeah, thank you! I have a question from Daniel, “What strategy can be employed to help management and workers realize that foot safety is ultimate?”
Bryan:That’s a great question because I tell you, so much of safety does come down to awareness and training. Whenever I'm working with a group trying to elevate their safety programs, again, the phrase I'm always constantly reminding them of is safety is either proactive, or it’s inactive. As I mentioned, those three motivators, the desire for reward, avoidance of pain and conservation of energy, and you know, the joke that when I got out of bed this morning, “I broke my record for most days spent on the planet. What are the odds I'm going to change it today?” We tend to think about getting work done. We don't think safety.
So, as the statistics that we showed you in the beginning and the fact that slips, trips, and falls send people to the ER more than any other events through the course of a given year. Making that information aware to your employees, you know, doing annual training at this level, and maybe even just putting out if you have a newsletter, or if you have regular meetings, just kicking up the awareness of this because, again, this is truly one of those topics that is just as important in our personal life as it is in our work life. We don't want people going home and taking risks standing on objects with wheels or not wearing the right footwear for the work they're doing, not cleaning up slip hazards. So, this is one of those that I think constantly reinforcing is so important.
Rob:Yeah, and I could just add to that if I could, I would say is that it's pointed out in the presentation today. You know, there's so many different styles and manufacturers that are out there, and we're all trying to make a comfortable product. And so, you know, it's no longer your granddad's footwear that's out there — these large clunky, heavy, uncomfortable, safety footwear. There's really no excuse for anybody not to be in safety footwear. And it's important for employers to do the correct hazard assessment and make sure that any types of risks that are present in the workplace are being taken into account and that your employees are safe.
Bryan:Really good. Rob, very good comment there on the hazards. And that really will go a long way in itself. So, in other words, making sure your employees do understand that hazard that they're being exposed to. So yeah, great point, Rob.
Bryan:A great, great point. I have a question from Steve. He says, “I have a number of clients who are in the food processing and retail industries. They're reluctant to mandate specific footwear because they're concerned it may require them to provide it. What are your thoughts on mandating certain footwear for safety?”
Bryan:Well, and again, I'd love to hear your comments on this, Rob. I know when it comes to hazards and work, once you've identified a hazard, OSHA is going to expect you to come up with a control measure for that hazard. So, if employees are working on slick surfaces from oil or grease, say, like working in a fast food restaurant or a kitchen, or food industry or whatever, again, you're going to be expected to come up with some type of a control measure. So, I would say if you have not addressed it in any way whatsoever, depending on really the level of that risk in that and the industry you're dealing with, it can almost be negligent. So, you want to be really careful with that. I would say you really do need to specify, again, because it sounds to me like you've identified a hazard. So, you need to at least specify the type of footwear that they need to wear.
I know when it comes to safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, you know, the employer has to provide that. You know, you've got to provide PPE. when it comes to more expensive items and personal items like shoes, footwear, often employers will do like a copay or offer to pay part of it, or whatever. But just like demanding that an employee have certain tools to be able to do their job or a certain skill set, you know, just telling them that they need certain type of footwear because of their environment I think is a necessity. You really need to.
Rob, you got anything you’d chime in on that?
Rob:Yeah, I could add a few things. So, I definitely sympathize with that person asking that question. We encounter a lot — we do a lot of food processing work, mostly for the sanitation businesses, but it all still falls into the food processing umbrella. Costs are a big deal, and they're also facing transitory workforces. Sometimes a guy will show up on Monday, and by Wednesday, he's not there. So, it's, you know — meanwhile, they've outfitted him with a pair of boots, and nobody else is going to wear those. So, it does become costly.
We like to approach those situations where we'll tell them, you know, tell those certain employers, “Listen, start a person out in a safe ASTM compliant footwear, but it might not have all the bells and whistles and the most comforts and features to it. But as that worker stays, let's say two weeks or a month, then they might move up or might be rewarded with a more comfortable footwear product. And, you know, the bottom line is you do have to be safe. OSHA has teeth, as Bryan was pointing out. They can assess fines, and if under your hazard assessment you’ve identified a risk, you are obligated to make sure that that employee is provided with appropriate PPE.
And the only thing I would add at the end here is, you know, happy employees are productive employees. And so, obviously, if you're providing a safe workplace, those workers are going to be happy. And if you're providing them with very comfortable anti fatigue footwear that addresses the safe, the workplace hazards as well as slips, trips and falls, and leaves that worker not exhausted at the end of the day, that's going to be a reward to the employer.
Bryan:Yeah. Good points.
Tiffany:Yeah, absolutely. I do have a few specific question I think Rob might be able to help out with. “Do you have any recommendations for types of safety shoes for roofers in particular? What do you think about high ankled cover boots and such?”
Rob:Yeah, a little bit outside of my current, or Tingley’s current wheelhouse. So, I can't really address that one head on, but I would say, you know, again, making sure that the footwear that they're selecting is as slip resistant as it can be, and that their foot is a fit inside of that footwear as securely as it could be is definitely going to contribute to a safer work environment.
Tiffany:Alright, thank you! I have a question from Jamie. “You mentioned footwear programs earlier. What is involved in setting one up, and what does one entail?”
Bryan:Again, really, this is just part of your, you know, when we're got a group, it doesn't matter if it's manufacturing or restaurant, or whatever. Again, as I mentioned earlier, everything begins with that hazard assessment. So, as part of your hazard assessment and your safety program, you need a safety, a comprehensive safety management system. What you're doing is, you might begin with a safety policy that says, we value our employees, we're going to work, do everything we can to keep our employees safe. So, something towards commitment.
Then, the rest of the policy is going to basically explain everything that you're doing to keep employees safe. So, you know, for everything from safety walks to your identified hazards. So, in this department, we have these hazards where someone has to wear hearing protection because they're exposed to 85 decibels or higher, blah, blah, blah. Well, you would get into the foot protection if you've identified a hazard that, like we've been talking about throughout this webinar, you know, you have slip, trip, hazards, or these conditions, equipment or material supplies that can cause injury to the foot. So, if that's the case, then you would have a foot protection program as, you know, one of the… And, it doesn't have to be really expansive, but it would be like a one page of your safety management program, but you've addressed it. We've identified these hazards, so here's what we require as far as protection from that. And it might be something as simple as, again, if you're working in this area where you get splash, you know, this corrosive material on your boot, then you wear these boots that they have available, or whatever. But it all goes down to your foot protection program states the hazard, the risk associated with the hazard, and your control measure. And then you might even include that you regularly go out and inspect this, make sure people are following it. So, that's really what it entails.
Rob, you got anything you want to chime in with?
Rob:Um, yeah, I would just say, don't be afraid to ask for help. That could be from colleagues, but more importantly, from your safety supplier, and all the way back through to the manufacturers. You know, we're here to obviously sell products and make money, but we want to make sure that the products we're delivering to the marketplace do keep people safe. We do have a reputation that we want to stand by. We want to be innovative, and we want to be transparent. So, if you need a test report or a certification, and that is one of the new requirements under the ASTM F2413 for the for the toe impact and compression, a good manufacturer should be able to provide that information to you. And they should also be able to provide you with wear test samples or bring their expertise, as Bryan was saying, because one size does not fit all. You have got different workers in different departments, and they all have — there might be some overlapping safety concerns, but then there's also going to be some other unique factors that come into play for all those different departments. And just don't be afraid to ask and be engaged with your safety supplier and manufacturers.
Tiffany:Great answer. I have a question from Steve about I don’t know if you’re aware of any footwear or work surface manufacturers that make inter-design systems?
Bryan:I’m not familiar with that.
Rob:I’m not familiar with that phrase.
Tiffany:Okay. Well, thank you.
Rob:I’m not sure what that — unless we can get a follow up to that question, I'm not exactly sure what's being asked.
Tiffany:Okay. I do have another question from Brenda asking about Static Energy considerations. If you're able to provide any information. She says that she knows not all industrial shoes are appropriate in conducting properties.
Rob:Right. I can address that one if you'd like, Bryan.
Rob:I think what the question is driving at is basically what we touched upon there in the presentation. It's the static dissipative properties of the footwear, and the goal there is to reduce a static charge build up, which if anybody's kind of walked across their carpet in the middle of winter and then touched the light switch, and you've gotten a spark or a little electric shock, SD or ESD footwear (electrostatic dissipative footwear) is designed to minimize those risks. And they can be sources of great hazard in petrochemical environments or where there's a combustible dust in the environment. And it doesn't take anything more than just a little electric static spark to cause a flash fire. So, it is it is a big concern. You do see it also in electronics manufacturing where there's not necessarily a risk to the person or to a fire in the environment. It's more to protect the sensitive electronics that are being assembled.
The thing to keep in mind there is, you want to buy footwear that is covered under the ASTM F2413 performance criteria standard, and you want to look for footwear that's labeled as SD or, in some cases, even CD, which is the conductive dissipative. And then you've got to go the steps further where once that footwear is in use, you've got to make sure that you're using appropriate socks, that you're not using foot powders or baby powder inside your footwear. The idea there is you want that little bit of moisture to be present so that any charges that build up on your body are able to trickle down through your legs, down through your feet, down through your socks, and down and out through the footwear and into the ground. You want to basically have just that steady discharge of any static buildup occurring all the time so that there is not that risk of it building up in a spark discharge situation.
Tiffany:Great! Thank you. We did also get some clarification from Steve. Thank you, Steve. He wants to know if there’s any manufacturers that make footwear and mat systems that are designed to work together.
Rob:Okay. I can jump in there, and, Bryan, maybe you could add some. I'm not aware of anybody that's doing anything like that. That's not to say that there aren't. I'm just not aware of any. And I'm guessing there, again, maybe the idea is for that static discharge or something along those lines. So, there may be manufacturers doing it, but I'm not aware of anyone.
Bryan:Yeah, I'm not either.
Tiffany:Okay, well, thank you! We are out of questions. So, I'd like to offer Bryan and Rob the opportunity to have any last remarks.
Bryan:Yeah, I’d like to thank everybody, again, for forgiving us your time. I realize how busy everyone's schedules are. So, I appreciate your commitment to safety. I’d like to thank Safety Network and Tingley for providing us great information, and especially Rob. I love these sessions because once again, I'm one of those that when I was a safety manager dealing with safety, I'm always asking the questions. So, I'm always going to people like Rob to the distributor, the manufacturer, to get the answers and make sure that I'm meeting the best safety solutions. So, yeah, I love this dynamic. So, thank you, Rob. Thanks, Tiffany.
Rob:Sure. Yeah, and I would just add it's been an honor and a privilege to be part of this and to help make sure that workers and people in general are safe where they're at. So, thanks, Bryan, and thanks, Tiffany, for putting this together.
Tiffany:Thank you! I'd like to thank both Bryan and Rob for presenting and answering Q&As today. I’d like to thank Tingley for putting on the presentation, Safety Network. And most of all, I'd like to thank the audience for attending today. Just a reminder, we will be sending out a link to the recording and the presentation slides in a few days. Thanks again. Take care and stay safe.