Preventing Foot Injuries in the Workplace

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Construction workers post the highest number of on-the-job foot and ankle injuries, but you don’t have to be a builder to join the ranks. Take a moment to consider the many possible sources of workplace foot injuries so you can sidestep them.

Unsurprisingly, we see plenty of workplace injuries at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas — data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that more than 192,000 workers report lower-extremity accidents yearly. 

If you’ve become part of that staggering statistic — we can help.

Dr. Matthew Cerniglia and our team have years of experience diagnosing and treating all types of foot and ankle injuries, but we’d much rather help you prevent them. To that end, here’s a look at the most common workplace foot injuries and our strategies for avoiding them.

Does your job put your feet at risk?

Certain industries are more prone to workplace foot injuries than others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the most injury-prone industries as:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Health care
  • Hospitality

The increased risk in these industries is mainly due to the nature of the work, which often involves heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and long hours on your feet. However, working in other fields doesn’t exempt you from danger — even office workers can sustain foot injuries.

Common workplace accidents leading to foot injuries

It’s easy to imagine how foot injuries occur on a construction site — exposed nails, heavy tools, and uneven terrain provide a perfect storm of variables for an accident. Yet some of the most common injuries happen in the least expected environments, like offices, cubicles, and retail stores. 

For example, we see workplace foot injuries that result from:

  • Slipping on wet flooring
  • Tripping on cords, wires, mats, and ripped carpet
  • Falling off chairs, step stools, and ladders
  • Heavy machinery accidents
  • Falling objects
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Sharp objects and puncture wounds
  • Exposure to viruses, bacteria, and fungi
  • Prolonged standing
  • Prolonged walking
  • Improper footwear

You can hurt your feet in any job, anywhere, anytime. 

Types of workplace foot injuries and their symptoms

Whether you trip and fall, drop something heavy, or just stand still in one place for hours, your feet take the brunt of your workday. Here are some of the work-related foot problems we see most often:


Falling, dropping a heavy object, or twisting can easily break the bones in your feet. You can usually recognize the signs of a fracture by the severe pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot.


Ankle or foot sprains occur when you overstretch or tear your ligaments during falls, vehicle accidents, trips over uneven surfaces, or violent twisting. If this happens, expect pain, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion.


The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause plantar warts by entering the skin on your feet through small cuts or abrasions. Lifeguards and others who work barefoot come into contact with HPV daily and may develop small, rough growths on the bottom of their feet, pain when walking or standing, and tiny black dots on the wart’s surface.

Plantar fasciitis 

If you work on your feet all day, especially if you’re not used to it, you could develop plantar fasciitis. Being overweight or wearing unsupportive shoes exacerbates the problem and inflames your plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. 

It causes a sharp, stabbing pain in your heel, especially upon taking the first steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting.

Corns and calluses

Hours of friction on feet lead to thickened areas of skin called calluses and corns. These hardened, raised bumps are typically tender or painful, and you may notice flaky, dry, or waxy skin. 

When your feet hurt, you change your gait to ease the discomfort, and the shift creates new problems in your legs, hips, and back. So, even if you don’t have a foot injury, a work-related foot problem as minor as a blister can lead to other musculoskeletal conditions.

How to prevent and treat workplace foot injuries

Being aware of the potential hazards in your workplace is critical to avoiding problems. Follow these practical tips: 

  1. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose shoes or boots with proper support, slip-resistant soles, and protective features such as steel-toed caps for hazardous environments.
  2. Use protective gear: Wear safety equipment like metatarsal guards, toe guards, and shin guards when working with heavy machinery or in environments with falling objects.
  3. Maintain a clean and organized workspace: Keep walkways clear of debris and clutter, and place caution signs to indicate wet or slippery surfaces.
  4. Take breaks and stretch: Give your feet a rest and perform stretching exercises throughout the day to reduce the risk of injury.
  5. Be proactive: Identify trip and fall hazards and alert your employer.

If you suspect a foot injury, call Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas or request an appointment online. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes and prevent long-term complications.