Farm Safety Week Advice: Don’t Tread On My Toes

Injuries to feet and legs are all too common in agriculture. Using appropriate footwear is a big step towards preventing an accident. In 2013 NFU Mutual had 90 claims for accidents involving injuries to feet. Every four days last year, NFU Mutual had a claim where a farm worker had an accident and injured their foot in the process. These are claims from employees alone so will be just the tip of the iceberg for the agricultural industry. Many more farmers are likely to have suffered similar accidents.

Overview of the problem

Farmers have received foot injuries from animals stepping on their feet, dropping heavy objects on their feet, and stepping on sharp objects. To protect against foot injuries farmers should always wear appropriate footwear for the tasks they are doing.

Safety shoes usually have much more than just a steel-toe cap for protection. Steel shanks help distribute weight more evenly, providing support during such tasks as climbing a ladder. Metatarsal guards either fit over the top of the shoe or are built into the shoe to protect the top of the foot. Steel mid soles, either built-in or slip-in, protect against punctures and bone bruises from nails, glass, barbs, and stones. Slip-resistant soles help prevent falls in wet barns and on muddy ground. For winter, slip-in felt liners are available for most styles of boots.

What can be done

  • Wear appropriate footwear for the job you’re doing and make sure the same applies for your employees and any members of your family working on your farm
  • Wellies or boots with steel toecaps should be worn when handling livestock or when carrying out tasks when you may risk dropping things on your feet
  • Tie your laces – loose laces can get caught in machinery or cause you to trip and fall
  • Throw away and replace any footwear that is damaged or has worn soles
  • When handling livestock, use an appropriate crush or other livestock handling equipment whenever possible to help reduce the risk of animals stepping on you
  • Wear footwear with appropriate sole protection to prevent penetration from sharp objects such as nails, blades and other metal objects
  • Wear slip-resistant footwear to make sure you keep your footing at all times
  • If you spot a trip or slip hazard address it as soon as you can to reduce the risk of you or someone else on your farm having a fall
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