Earlier this month, I was getting some things taken care of around the house for our fall clean-up. One fine Sunday, I decided I was going to finish the trim in our downstairs bathroom which meant I needed to paint 5 pieces of trim with my paint gun. I set up, grabbed my paint gun and respirator, and headed outside BAREFOOT. Why was I barefoot? Because anyone who has used a paint gun knows that you get overspray and I didn’t want any over spray on my shoes and it just didn’t seem right to don work boots on a Sunday. As I headed out the basement door, the storm door swung back and caught the back of my heel (right next to my Achilles tendon). This took out a half inch by quarter inch chunk of flesh. I said a few things, yelled at myself for not having shoes on, and painted my trim.
While waiting for my paint to dry, I decided to head to the gym to work out as the place is a ghost town on Sunday afternoon and I like the solitude. As I finished my last incline dumbbell bench press, I was sitting up and let the dumbbells hit the floor. You guessed it, the dumbbell rolled onto the outside of my RIGHT foot. The same foot I had just removed a chunk of flesh out of the back. 70 lbs dumbbell vs your baby toe, I will let you guess which one felt more pain. That evening after a day of working around the Palmer home, my wife and children wanted to have a fire in the fire pit. I happily obliged as that sounded like a good idea to me too. The wood we had was little green and needed some kindling to get it going. I pulled out my trusty camp hatchet and began to make small pieces out of bigger pieces IN THE DARK, BAREFOOT yet again. I missed the piece of wood and tried to trim the top of my toenail with a hatchet. I will let you guess what foot it was on. All in all, it was a bad day for my right foot and it got me thinking about footwear.
OSHA has a standard for PPE and they incorporate many standards for footwear by reference in the ANSI standards. If you don’t work behind a desk all day, your feet are your means of transportation around the shop or jobsite. They should be treated with MUCH more respect than I treated mine on that Sunday. Make sure you and your employees’ footwear is fitted for the work they are doing and if their footwear does not provide adequate protection, remedy it. They may not thank you while you are making them get rid of those boots they “just broke in” but they will when they try to trim their toenail with something other than nail clippers and they walk away unscathed. If you need any assistance with assessing your employees’ footwear versus your exposures, contact your local loss control rep. They are happy to help.
For further guidance on footwear and the standards that apply, click here. One thing you won’t find is that it is okay to be barefoot.
Author: Sam Palmer is passionate about workers health and safety. Before joining UBIC he worked several years in the construction industry educating workers on how EHS and OSHA policies and regulations can keep you safe.