Put Your Best Foot Forward

The California landscape allows for employees to work in a variety of industries and professions that each come with a standard of dress that usually requires footwear. Professional and administrative jobs typically require that employees wear business or business-casual attire that includes dress shoes. While more relaxed occupations, such as retail clerks, amusement park operators and others, allow for casual attire or sportswear, which includes tennis shoes or sandals. Regardless of the type of footwear, it is important that employers and employees recognize that one of the most frequent industrial injuries are slips, trips and falls. Based on that frequency a predominantly affected body part is the upper extremities (typically associated with attempting to “break the fall”). The type of shoe worn at work may have a direct correlation with increasing or minimizing instances of slips, trips and falls.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2016 data, the number of injuries which resulted in time off from work related to a slip, trip or fall was 26.8% of all injuries that occurred in 2015. This type of injury was second to overexertion, which accounted for 32.6%. There are many factors that may lead to a slip, trip or fall that have no association with the type of footwear worn; however, having adequate footwear for the work environment is critical to maintaining a safe workplace.

Employees who work in an industrial environment, such as a warehouse or factory should wear slip resistant footwear to improve safety and efficiency. In an office setting, the type of flooring, such as tile, linoleum, or smooth cement should be assessed to determine if there is a high likelihood that wearing dress shoes (which usually have a slick or nonslip-resistant heel or outsole) may increase the risk for a slip, trip or fall.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Standards require that employers “assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present....which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).” This may take the form of assessing flooring, equipment and chemicals present in the work environment that may require that employees wear slip-resistant shoes, steel-toed or reinforced shoes and even chemical-resistant shoes. For more information regarding OSHA standards, visit www.osha.gov.