Abstract

Workers who walk or stand for long periods of time during their workday, without proper foot support and shock absorption, are susceptible to pain and harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can have lasting effects on the body. Just as steel-toe footwear is often required as personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, insoles are essential for preventing pain and fatigue.

If workers spend hours on their feet, there is an increased risk for inflammation and excess muscle fatigue that could be avoided with proper foot support and insole comfort. Aches and pains in the body associated with foot issues can also impact workers knees and back. Understandably, this can result in reduced employee work productivity or absenteeism.

There is a significant advantage to providing insoles vs traditional anti-fatigue matting for a work environment. The benefits of insoles, including personalized fit and the ability for the worker to be mobile far exceed the limitations of anti-fatigue matting.

A key component to consider, is what materials are used in the manufacturing of the insole. Some materials only provide support, while others have a limited amount of basic foam to add comfort. Insoles made with dual layer memory foam provide 100 percent surface contact with the body, 100 percent of the time. Rather than an afterthought, the right insoles should be considered as a necessary compliment to any corporate health and wellness program. The type of insoles supported by research are those made of polyurethane (memory foam) with a particular durometer (hardness) to address the variety of work demands and employee needs. This increases the confidence level for safety leaders in making the competent decision to implement the most effective insole program. In addition, if orthotics insoles are necessary to correct an existing issue such as pronation, it is important that the orthotic insole supports, corrects and places the foot back in its natural and neutral position; the optimal position for healthy feet.

Implementing a company insole program is an important decision and all aspects should be considered, including employee involvement, to ensure the program meets the needs of all workers, and has a positive impact and acceptance rate.