There is much said about the negative side of sedentary jobs – sitting at a desk all day can have a very negative effect on our health from minor issues such as Repetitive Strain Injury right through to increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But what about employees who are constantly on their feet? Millions of staff stand all day in the UK, doing all sorts of jobs in a variety of different industries. Cashiers, nurses, assembly line workers, retail staff and food service assistants are just a few.
Being on your feet all day can be a real pain. Back pain, shoulder pain, leg pain, muscle tension, joint issues, hip problems, varicose veins. These are just some of the things that are associated with standing for long periods of time. Workers can suffer, especially if they are in a role where they are in a similar stance or doing the same thing over and over, such as a cashier or assembly line worker. Because they are not moving about much they are feeling the force of gravity, their muscles become tense – and this can lead to all sorts of pain.
So if your staff are always on their feet, think about what you can you do to minimise the pain.
Let’s start at the bottom. Are your staff wearing the right shoes? If they have correctly-fitting and fit-for-purpose footwear they’ll be comfortable and this will seriously minimise the risks already outlined. There is also another benefit. When staff are comfortable, they are more productive. Think about last time you were wearing shoes that weren’t comfortable. All you can think about is how much your feet are hurting. If that’s how your staff are feeling they are hardly likely to be the best ambassadors of your brand.
But it’s not just about how happy, smiley and productive your staff are. It’s also about ensuring they are safe. Many workplaces have the potential for slips. In fact, slips and trips are the most common hazard in the workplace, with over a third of all major injuries coming from them. That’s why it’s important to make sure your staff have the correct footwear.
So what can you do to make sure you and your staff are more comfortable at work? Here are our top tips:
- Give them a variety of jobs – changing their duties regularly means they move about in different ways and this gets their blood flowing, preventing muscle tension and pain.
- Give your staff the opportunity to stand or sit if possible. A mixture of the two is best.
- Do risk assessments – could staff slip or trip? If so think about the right, anti-slip footwear.
- Make sure staff have short breaks when they are standing all day, as this again promotes movement.
- Cushioned or anti-fatigue matting can help make a difference.
- Make sure your employees’ footwear conforms to UK and European guidelines and is also comfortable and suitable for the job they are doing, because happy feet = happy staff.
Kay Riley has year of experience is the health and safety sector and is now a writer for Shoes For Crews Europe. Kay is looking to reach out to the industry to share her knowledge. I look forward to answering any questions or comment you have on the piece.