Put Your Best Foot First
Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Many healthcare professionals spend long stretches of time standing or walking throughout the day, so it’s important for them to invest in proper footwear. Good footwear is essential to worker comfort, but comfort concerns must be balanced with safety.
It might be tempting to assume that footwear concerns only apply to construction, manufacturing or other professions where heavy machinery, dangerous tools or heights pose an especially large danger. However, healthcare settings pose a number of hazards ranging from falling objects, objects piercing footwear, slip, trips and falls, the contraction of
OSHA hasn’t released any footwear guidance specifically tailored to the healthcare sector, but healthcare employees engage in work that might bring their feet into contact with several overlapping hazards. In particular, employers in
Protective Footwear Standards
In healthcare settings, employees may come into contact with sharp medical instruments, needles, heavy rolling objects (like gurneys or hospital beds) and other heavy medical equipment. Under OSHA standards, foot protection must be used whenever work processes or environments could cause foot injuries. More importantly, from OSHA’s point of view, it's the employer’s responsibility to determine if and when employees are exposed to any hazards.
Drafting a Footwear Policy
OSHA guidelines may not offer the specificity that many employers or employees would like, especially when it comes to questions about certain brands or styles of footwear. The benefit, though, to both employers and employees is that the guidelines allow all parties to find footwear solutions that balance competing workplace needs.
Remember these needs when drafting a dress code or footwear policy. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare employees need footwear that keeps their feet safe from hazards but that's also comfortable enough to wear during shifts filled with long periods of walking or standing.
The best way to minimize risk is to consider the specific hazards that your employees face—both frequently and infrequently—to make sure your policies match the circumstances your employees will actually have to deal with. After all, employees in a clinic might be exposed to radically different hazards than the ones present in an emergency or operating room or laboratory.
Creating policies and procedures to protect your employees (and their feet) from hazards is ideal for any healthcare setting. We don’t want to let down Da Vinci.
To learn more about how you can minimize risk, contact one of our healthcare experts.
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