Are the popular shoes safe for your employees to wear to work?
You've probably seen the brightly colored, rubbery shoes shuffling up and down the halls of your practice. The jury's still out on their style factor, but those who wear Crocs swear by their comfort, making them widely popular. The more important question is: Are Crocs with openings in the heel or across the toe area a safe wardrobe decision for your team members?
OSHA does have a foot protection standard, but you won't find reference to Crocs or other "open shoes" in its standards. The rules just don't get that specific because, ideally, the boss is making the decision about what employees can wear. However, OSHA does say that employers should make sure employees wear protective footwear when working in areas where there's a danger of foot injuries. And determining whether a hazard exists is up to the employer.
I don't think I'm making an unreasonable leap in logic when I say that shoes with any type of opening in the foot covering, including some styles of Crocs, are unsafe in a veterinary practice. And the styles with little or no back strap keeping them on the foot can lead to trips and falls. These styles provide minuscule protection against things that could fall off countertops, such as scalpel blades, needles, and other sharp objects. While some closed-toed footwear, such as canvas sneakers, also offer scanty protection against these hazards, some protection is better than no protection. And in equine practices, canvas sneakers and Crocs clearly aren't going to cut it. Sturdy boots, even steel-toed boots, are the norm and a good idea. It's up to you, the practice owner, to determine footwear appropriateness. Just be sure you're keeping your employees' feet safe.