Footwear serves as a prevention tool against slips, trips and falls for employees across industries. In fact, about 24% of all slips and falls are due to improper footwear. However, it can be difficult to tell when it’s time to throw away a pair of work shoes and exchange them for new ones. Knowing the telltale signs can help protect workers from serious injuries while on the job.
5 signs it’s time to replace your work shoes
Whether working in a hospital, warehouse or construction yard, wearing protective and intact footwear can be crucial to performance. For example, thick tread can help workers grip the ground while pushing or pulling heavy objects. In addition, comfortable and supportive shoes can help keep workers’ knees and hips aligned while they stand on their feet all day. Comfortable shoes can also prevent foot pain and body aches throughout the day. When an employee’s work shoes are worn out, however, they can decrease in function and increase the wearer’s risk of discomfort and injury.
The following signs can help workers know when to replace their work shoes so that they can maximize their performance and safety:
- Your shoe fails the “toe fold” test.
Test the support and integrity of the sole of your shoe with the “toe fold” test: From underneath, push up on the toe of your shoe, bending it toward the laces. Then release. The toe of your shoe should lift minimally, in the front 1/3 of the sole. It should spring back or easily return to its original position. If the sole folds up and/or toe of the shoe can touch the laces, then it no longer offers sufficient support.
“Toe Fold” Test FAILED
- Your heel counter has lost its support.
Grasp both sides of the heel, called the heel counter. Pinch the sides together. The sides of the heel counter should have some give/bend but be firm enough to maintain space between the two sides. If you can bring both sides of the heel together and make them touch, then the heel counter is not strong enough.
Heel Counter Test FAILED
- The midsole is worn out.
The midsole is the part of the shoe located between the outsole and insole. Its primary role is to absorb shock and provide heel support. When the midsole is worn out, it can deform and compress unevenly, causing noticeable creasing. A damaged midsole is a clear indicator that an employee needs to replace their work shoes. Damaged midsoles can lead to foot misalignment and cause overuse injuries.
- The outsole is separated from the midsole.
With overuse, a work shoe’s outsole and midsole can become separated. This happens when the glue between them dissolves or releases its grip on the fabric. If an employee notices that their midsole and outsole have become separated, it is a clear sign to replace the shoes. The separation can quickly cause the rest of the shoe to separate and force an employee’s feet in unstable positions.
- The feet are painful at the end of the day.
The most obvious indicator that an employee needs to replace their work shoes is in the pain they feel. Whether it’s consistent pain throughout the day or sharp pain at the end of the day, foot pain should not be part of their routine. Pain that increases gradually throughout the day may be due to worn-out shoes with worn-out support. Workers should therefore replace their shoes for new ones as soon as they can to avoid further injury.
Work-Fit can help your employees know when they need to replace their footwear
Do your employees know when they should replace their footwear? Our team of experts at Work-Fit can provide on-site training that can help your workers identify safe footwear. Contact our team today for more information about our services or to learn how we can help keep your employees’ shoes up to par.