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High-heeled shoes may cause serious injury in servers

Research conducted by a former waitress on the dangers of wearing heels in the workplace may be pertinent to women in Ohio. According to the study, female restaurant and cocktail servers fall down while at work an average of 1.6 times per week. Slips, trips and falls have the potential to cause severe injuries to workers and if time off is needed to recover, employees may file a workers' compensation claim.

The study was inspired by the researcher's time spent as a waitress. She said that she wore a two-inch, high-heeled shoe during her first week on the job because heels were part of the accepted uniform. After discovering that she could not feel her feet at the end of the night, she purchased a pair of shoes with a smaller heel, a wider base and slip-resistant soles.

The 23-year-old realized that heels were a dangerous part of her job as a server so she decided to explore the situation more thoroughly through research. She believed that heels were partly to blame for the many falls experienced by servers in the industry. Her study reviews 12 related projects on falls and workplace safety. Thirty-five female servers, varying in age from 19 to 37 with serving experience from one to 14 years, were interviewed for the study.

All of these women had slipped, tripped or fallen on the job once a week, on average. Forty percent of them were injured as a result of that slip, trip or fall and 93 percent of them were wearing high-heeled shoes. Ninety-one percent of the women said that their employers required them to wear such shoes but less than a quarter of them were given a suggestion on what shoes to purchase. Those suggestions often discussed looks, brands and price, rather than safety concerns.

More than half of the women wore heels that were between two and four inches while at work. Forty percent wore shoes with heels lower than two inches.

According to the study, the most dangerous areas for potential server falls are the dish area and the kitchen. During the interviews, the women were asked to rank the four factors which most contributed to their potential to fall. They reported footwear material, high-heeled footwear, type of flooring, and contaminants on the floor, in that order.

Source: Edmonton Journal, "Cruel shoes the bane of women servers," Chris Zdeb, June 25, 2012

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