This National Safety Month, protect yourself with safety footwear

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This June marks the 20th anniversary of National Safety Month. Established by the National Safety Council, National Safety Month is meant to increase awareness of health and safety risks – and how to prevent them. Safety awareness is a serious and underappreciated issue. As pointed out, injuries are the most common cause of death for Americans age 1 through 44.

That's a big topic, so there's always a lot to talk about. For this article, in honor of National Safety Month, we want to focus on a topic that's close to our hearts: safety footwear. You may be surprised by just how far safety footwear, such as slip-resistant shoes, can go toward protecting people from serious injuries. 

Here are three of the most serious injuries that slip-resistant footwear can help prevent, along with some safety tips.

"The work-related concussion rate was 31.8 per 100,000."

1. Concussions
Concussions are among the most serious – and common – types of workplace injuries. A 2011 study, conducted by Wiley Periodicals, found that the work-related concussion crude rate was 31.8 per 100,000 among employed civilians age 16 or older, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported.

Not surprisingly, head injuries represent one of the most costly types of workers' compensation claims. The NSC found that in 2011 and 2012, contusion and concussion claims averaged out to nearly $30,000 each, including both medical and indemnity costs – a figure that speaks to how devastating and debilitating these injuries can be. 

Slip-resistant shoes can help to cut down on these numbers. With slip-resistant footwear, there is a much lower chance that workers will lose their footing and fall, hitting their heads as a result. This is especially important for organizations in industries where slippery floors are common, such as hospitals and supermarkets. If you're a worker in such a sector and you aren't wearing slip-resistant, high-grip shoes while on the job, then there's no better time than National Safety Month to upgrade to safer footwear.

2. Burns
In that same NSC study, the council found that the average incurred costs for burn-related injuries were actually even greater than those for concussions – nearly $40,000 when you include medical and indemnities. 

Obviously, burns aren't an issue for workers in most sectors. But occupational injuries accounted for close to 10 percent of admissions to burn centers from 2005-2014, according to the ABA National Burn Repository. And burns are a top-level concern for anyone who works in a restaurant kitchen. The combination of numerous heat sources (ovens, stoves, grills and more), extremely hot pans and plates, slippery floors, and constant movement make kitchens very dangerous in this regard.

Hot stoves + slippery floors = burn risk.Hot stoves + slippery floors = burn risk.

Workers can protect themselves to a significant degree with the right safety equipment – including slip-resistant shoes. The better the grip on employees' footwear, the lower the risk of sliding and collisions, and therefore the lower the chances of burn accidents. 

3. Spinal nerve damage
Lastly, it's worth discussing the risk of nerve damage. As we noted in this previous blog, while people usually try to catch themselves during a fall, that's not always possible, and many will land on their backs or shoulders. When that happens, there's a major risk of damage to spinal nerves. Spinal cord injuries' symptoms can include loss of sensation, lost muscle strength and worse, according to the Merck Manual. 

The best way to avoid these injuries is by avoiding the fall in the first place, and one of the absolute most-effective ways to do that is by wearing slip-resistant shoes. 

As the NSC has noted, "Safety is no accident. It's a choice we need to make throughout our entire lives." And a key part of making that choice is embracing and using the right equipment – including safety footwear. 

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