How Your Work Uniform Affects Slip and Falls
Employees in the foodservice industry, hospitals, and manufacturing plants have been wearing slip-resistant shoes for decades. This footwear with specialty soles is a requirement in most of these industries, as they are known to be effective in protecting employees from preventable slip and fall hazards that may occur. But how effective are they really?
We've assessed these general requirements and studies conducted regarding proper slip-resistant footwear to better understand how well they protect against slip and falls.
Why Are Slip-Resistant Shoes Required?
Designed with safety in mind, slip-resistant shoes were created with a special grip on the soles to improve traction on slippery surfaces. As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented standards regarding their use, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes them as being useful in protecting employees from slip and falls.
Considering this, it is imperative that employees know the OSHA standards and why they are required in many industries.
OSHA Requirements for Personal Protective Equipment
OSHA, as part of their standards for personal protective equipment (PPE), outlines the requirements for clothing and footwear in compliance with hazard protection. As a PPE standard, appropriate footwear for your industry (slip-resistant, electrical resistance, steel-toed) should be worn for hazard protection. Along with this, if the specialty footwear is intended only to be worn on the job site, it must be provided or paid for by the employer.
The employer also assumes the responsibility of assessing the workplace's potential hazards (like slippery floors in a kitchen or manufacturing plant) and ensuring that the footwear provided or bought is correctly worn, sized, sanitized, and in compliance with the safety recommendations for such areas.
Do They Actually Improve Workplace Safety?
A study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined foodservice workers in school cafeterias across 226 districts. The districts were then randomly assigned to either the intervention or control group. In the intervention group, cafeteria employees were given free 5-star rated slip-resistant shoes, while the control group was instructed to purchase their own without specifications provided.
At its conclusion, the study found that the group given the free shoes had a 67% decrease in the slip and fall injury probability, while the control group had a 14% increase.
Although this cannot provide an overall idea of how 5-star slip-resistant shoes would perform under different circumstances (like in quick-service food jobs or manufacturing plants), it does offer some idea of how effective these shoes are in real-world events. It also highlights that wearing the appropriate PPE can lead to a decrease in potential injuries, and employees should be more adamant about taking these protective measures.
Other Clothing that May Contribute to Slip and Falls
While we have already established that employees in specific industries should be wearing slip-resistant shoes, there are other components of your work uniform that could be potentially hazardous. Here are some things to look out for:
- If your pants extend past your shoelaces or touch the floor, consider cuffing them to avoid you or other employees tripping on them.
- Never let your apron touch the floor — not only is this unsanitary, but it could also be a trip and fall hazard.
- Always double-check to make sure your shoelaces are secured. If it helps, purchase a shoelace cover.
Although these focus solely on what can help with slip and falls, dozens of other potential hazards come with clothing, depending on your industry. Being more aware of how your clothes could affect your probability of injury can help you become safer in the workplace.
Trust the Indiana Slip and Fall Attorney
The founding attorney at Shaw Law, Jeff "JJ" Shaw, has never lost a slip and fall case during his 30+ year career. As an Indiana native, he understands how prominent this issue is in the state and the unique hazards that may affect its population. When choosing the right attorney for your slip and fall case, trust the one with a proven track record of recovery for his clients. Call (260) 777-7777 and get started on your case today.