Protect Your Feet from Summer Heat

| BlackHawk Team

A hot empty road

Did you know that approximately 120,000 American workers suffer a foot-related injury each year? Even with protective footwear, foot, toe and ankle injuries happen. The average lost time per injury is six workdays. Downtime, medical expenses, fines and insurance costs add up to significant losses for both employees and companies.

In summertime it is especially important to pay careful attention to foot care. Summer’s hot temperatures add to the year-round hazards such as falling objects, sharp edges and wet conditions that cause foot injuries.

When the temps rise, the ground sizzles

“It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.” Or your feet. According to the National Weather Service, when the air temperature hits 102°F with sunshine, the temperatures of blacktop and concrete are, respectively, 167° and concrete 143°. (Grass is a little cooler at 106°.) That’s hot enough to fatigue feet that lack proper protection.

Fortunately, safety footwear manufacturers offer hundreds of styles for summer work. Lightweight synthetic upper materials are popular. Many borrow features from athletic footwear, such as ventilated mesh fabrics or hiker-inspired designs. Look for shoes that provide a comfortable fit and protection that is appropriate for your working conditions. Be sure the soles are nonslip if you’ll encounter wet or oily areas. Always wear socks. Keep toenails trimmed, and inspect your feet regularly for blisters.

OSHA guidelines for safety footwear

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132 and 1910.136 address workplace footwear.  The standard mandates that employers must determine which employees are exposed to a foot injury hazard, and the nature of that hazard.

All factories, job sites and warehouse have their share of hazards that can crush, burn or puncture feet — or worse.

  • Falling objects at construction sites, warehouses or loading docks
  • Sharp objects like nails, scrap metal, glass, screws and scrap wood
  • Equipment like forklifts, dollies and carts
  • Gas cylinders
  • Electricity
  • Wet or slick conditions
  • Chemical spills

Exposure to a foot injury hazard is key. When employees are exposed to the possibility of foot injuries, foot protection must be worn. When employees are not exposed to possible foot injuries, foot protection is not required by the OSHA standard. In those situations, the issue of protective footwear is a matter between the employer and the workers and any labor/management contractual agreements. In short, absent any agreement to the contrary, per OSHA an employee must wear protective footwear only when exposed to a foot injury hazard.

For workers with occasional exposure to foot hazards, one alternative is to use safety overshoes that can be slipped on quickly when needed. These provide toe and bone protection and a nonskid sole. They are ideal for working conditions that do not require 24/7 foot protection; for example, a worker who splits time between an office and a warehouse or loading dock.

For most working conditions requiring occasional foot protection, BlackHawk Industrial recommends Impacto TurboToe Composite Toe Safety Overshoe. They meet international industry safety standards and can be slipped over regular shoes. The non-conductive composite material is lightweight, durable and waterproof.

Need assistance with safety footwear selection for your workers? Ask our BlackHawk safety experts. We offer a vast line of safety footwear, and we can help you choose the best gear for your working conditions. We’re ready to assist you to keep your team on their toes. Call us at 855-610-1001.

†Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics