Spring has sprung and healthcare workers sprout…feet?

By: March 9th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson:

In the Spring a healthcare worker’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of feet

…and whether it is OK to wear sandals, open-toe, and open-back footwear in healthcare facilities.

This question always crops up at the first sign of pleasant weather. Like crocuses.

I wrote about safe footwear in healthcare last year in “When safety battles fashion over bloodborne pathogens,” but it’s probably worth reposting the pertinent content below:

Casual footwear that exposes feet to injury from dropped contaminated needles and sharps and exposure to chemicals is a legitimate safety concern in healthcare facilities. OSHA says it is the employer’s responsibility to identify the hazard and situations where reasonable occupational exposure exists and to take measures to prevent the exposure.

One measure is to provide personal protective equipment for those exposure-prone situations. Another solution is to make the choice of footwear subject to the business’s dress code. OSHA says, “businesses can make this type of dress code determination without regard to a worker’s potential exposure to blood, OPIM, or any other recognized hazards.”

An OSHA letter of interpretation explains this nicely. Have it ready the next time a sandal-wearing employee wants to go toe-to-toe with you.

For more information on footwear safety concerns,  check out the footwear fashion video clip in the Video Library.

 

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