Thursday, October 31, 2013

If The Shoe Fits!


Slips, trips and falls are nothing to laugh about. In the car wash industry, those of us that have been around awhile know that losing your footing can cause serious injuries. This exposure surely exists for both customers and employees alike. However, the purpose of this blog is to address the employee side.

There are many reasons why employees slip and fall at the car wash. But, one of the most common causes of these incidents is the improper use of acceptable footwear.  In fact, in a study published by the National Floor Safety Institute over 24% of these incidents can be attributed to that specific factor.

The following represents some basic facts that may assist in helping you and your employees understand how to properly make the right choice in selecting safer footwear.

The first simple consideration, of course, is to use slip resistant shoes. Here are some criteria to accomplish that:
  • Use shoes with wide grooves to channel liquids
  • Look for soles with slip resistant rubber compounds
  • The sole should be flat
  • The lower the heal, the better
  • Depending on the job description, use steel toed shoes
  • They should be water resistant
  • Select shoes that are ankle height
Also, the following are some common sense rules to include in your list of conditions outlined in the footwear program at the wash:
  • Ensure the shoes are comfortable and fit snugly
  • Monitor the tread regularly
  • All footwear should be in good condition at all times
  • Inspect for damage and replace or repair any worn or defective parts
  • Soles that are smooth should be replaced immediately
  • Match the footwear to either weather conditions or specific work activity
For example, keep in mind that the exposure will vary if the employee is working in a lube or detail center as opposed to concrete. The employee at the lube might be better off using a shoe with an oil-resistant sole. If they are moving drums or heavy items regularly steel toed shoes are recommended. With ice or snow it would be a good idea to have slip-resistant traction devices that fit over the shoe.

A good way to monitor these steps is to develop a simple checklist for each employee that should be reviewed at least bi weekly.

There are a few vendors that specialize in footwear and offer assistance selecting the appropriate shoes that will match the exposures common to most car washes. I have included a few links to view a couple of options; and

Please note the chart below which depicts the relationship between shoe soles and the work activity.

Once again, adding this program to your safety routine can save your company big dollars and go a long way to keeping your employees safer. I urge you to investigate some type of footwear plan and implement it today!
Tell us about your Footwear program and remember:

A safe wash protects people and profits!
Excerpts of the information presented here were obtained from a webinar conducted by Mike Benmosche-McNeil & Company, Bob Mellendick-CNA Small Business Risk Control Director and David Ludwin-CNA General and Products Liability Risk Control Director.