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A closer look at foot injuries in the workforce

There is no question that serious work injuries can cause significant disruptions for employers, including decreased productivity, increased insurance premiums and steep work comp costs. As such, employers will typically do their best to provide safe workplaces that protect their workers from neck, back, knee and other common work-related injuries. While this is laudable, are employers missing another fairly common but equally devastating injury?

According to medical experts, workers in all fields are susceptible to foot injuries. While this may not seem like a particularly pressing problem, these medical experts point out that an employee experiencing serious foot pain can be understandably distracted, causing their productivity to suffer and their likelihood of being involved in a workplace accident to skyrocket. Furthermore, employees suffering from a foot injury are more susceptible to suffering knee, back or hip injuries because they end up "favoring" their hurt foot.

Today's post -- the first in an ongoing series -- will briefly explore some of the causes of work-related foot injuries/foot pain.

Stationary standing positions: According to medical experts, one of the more common causes of serious foot pain for employees is having to stand in a stationary position for an extended period of time. Here, standing still for a prolonged period can cause fatigue and soreness in the foot muscles as the blood supply to the lower extremities decreases. Similarly, standing for an extended period of time can lead to painful varicose veins caused by blood accumulation in the feet and legs, as well as both joint degeneration and bone misalignment.

Mobile standing positions: Similarly, employees who stand for extended periods of time while rotating among tasks are susceptible to foot pain. Even though these employees are able to stretch their legs/feet by moving, they still place significant pressure on their heels/balls of their feet, a scenario that can lead to the development of plantar fasciitis.

Age: Older employees are remaining in the workforce longer now thanks to our nation's poor economy. However, these older employees -- especially those required to stand for extended periods of time -- are more prone to foot pain as ligaments, tendons and fascia lose elasticity, shock absorbency in their feet decreases, and overall range of motion becomes more limited.

Floors: Another common cause of foot pain/foot injuries is the floor surface. Experts indicate that many workplaces now have concrete floors because they are cheaper to install and maintain. However, concrete floors can be particularly unforgiving to feet as they provide zero shock absorbency and only minimal resistance.

To be continued ...

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.


EHS Today, "Preventing foot pain in the work force" Nov. 17, 2011

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