Put Your Best Foot Forward to Help the Crew

A Southern California portable restroom provider takes the comfort and safety of employees’ feet very seriously. Here’s why you should too.
Put Your Best Foot Forward to Help the Crew
Judy Kneiszel

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Aman walks into a bar and injures his foot ... because it’s a sharp metal bar and he’s wearing flimsy shoes. This isn’t funny, because it isn’t a joke. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 52,000 foot injuries in 2014 resulted in lost workdays. At least three-quarters of these injuries occurred because the worker wasn’t wearing adequately protective footwear.

Safety boots with steel toes and puncture-resistant soles can protect workers’ feet from being crushed or broken by falling or rolling objects. Protective footwear can also prevent lacerations, punctures and amputations of toes or feet.

The chance of a technician from Diamond Environmental Services in San Marcos, California, feeling the pain of a crushed toe decreased dramatically this past winter, however, when the whole crew got to pick out new safety boots on the company’s dime. You could say the company’s owner Eric de Jong, along with operations safety compliance coordinator Ron Fabor, saved a few soles — and heels and toes — just in time for Christmas.

BOOT PROGRAM

The idea came to de Jong after he saw some of the municipalities, agencies and construction firms Diamond works with implement boot programs in recent years. He decided December was a great time to boot up the crew.

“We have an annual gathering in each yard to enjoy some food and fun with our teams,” Fabor says. “Eric and operations manager Warren Van Dam travel from yard to yard spreading holiday cheer and thanking the crews for a great year.”

This year a Boot World truck accompanied de Jong and Van Dam as they greeted more than 200 male Diamond employees returning to the yard at the end of a shift about a week before Christmas. The truck was stocked with an assortment of industrial-grade boots and each employee was given a $100 gift certificate toward any boot purchase. Some selected boots priced at about $100. Others upgraded to a premium style, adding a few dollars of their own to get a top-grade boot that will last for years.

Boot World is a San Diego-based shoe retailer. Its commercial product division parks a mobile footwear store on site at a company’s request. They set up a fully stocked store staffed with footwear specialists to help customers select proper-fitting boots.

SAFETY AND COMFORT

Proper fit is important, as quality work boots do more than keep feet from being injured on the job. A good-fitting pair of boots can protect the wearer from extreme cold, keep feet dry in wet conditions, protect against electrical shock and prevent slips, trips and falls.

A good-fitting pair of high-quality work boots can also reduce aches and pains in feet, legs, knees, hips and spine, plus prevent calluses, ingrown toenails and simply tired feet. While not occupational injuries, these conditions are common among workers, causing discomfort, pain and fatigue. Fatigue especially can damage muscles and joints, and a tired worker or a worker in pain is less alert, which can contribute to an accident or unsafe actions.

“One of our daily safety topics recently was, ‘Remember it is safety, quality, and quantity … in that order,’” Fabor says. “Beyond safety, we felt that a gift of quality work boots would improve other aspects of the driver’s life. Quality boots add a bounce in one’s step during those eight to 10 hour shifts.”

Fabor says the fact that buying new boots was not a personal expense coming out of the employees’ family budgets made it a true gift that gave recipients a “valuable feeling of not spending money on themselves and being able to spend on the family.”

Summarizing the benefits of good boots, Fabor says, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you can accomplish more.”

SHOW THEM YOU CARE

The premium boots provided by Diamond are constructed to last at least twice as long as budget boots. “Our teams tell us that the discount brands need to be replaced at six months and even that may be waiting too long,” Fabor says.

In addition to showing workers the company cares about them, having the crew decked out in quality work boots also sends a message to customers that Diamond takes safety seriously.

Considering how much it can cost a company in lost productivity when a worker gets injured, it may be time more companies step up and encourage — or provide — high-quality safety shoes for all workers. And while Fabor didn’t share cost information (this was a gift, after all), buying work boots in large volume might provide some savings on each pair.

In case you were wondering, Diamond’s internal sales and customer service departments are predominately female. Since these jobs don’t require safety boots — and de Jong and Fabor don’t consider themselves experts in women’s footwear — these valued office employees received department store gift cards to buy shoes or whatever they wanted for themselves or their families. That, too, is a safe bet.



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