Sole Education Spring 2020: Safety Standards

This week,  we asked Tod to discuss what safety protocols he has to follow and/ or learning about in his classes and internships, any safety training that he was tasked with completing in an effort to stay safe on the job!

Things I have learned:

On my first day of class, during our first hour, one of my classmates was in front of us demonstrating how to correctly operate a fire extinguisher. He called the method he used the “PASS” technique. That stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep –  a skill he learned while serving in the Air Force. We’ve all seen them hanging on walls in buildings and schools, most of us have them somewhere in our homes, boats, and RV’s, but do we know how to use them?

One by one, our instructor had each classmate who wanted to try, go through the PASS training steps using a live working fire extinguisher putting out a “pretend” fire in an abandoned BBQ grill. When we were finished with the exercise, I realized that it isn’t enough to just understand how a safety device works, you must be able to execute properly to get results.

Since that first day, we have learned countless safety rules and protocols. From wearing steel-toed shoes, to safely lighting an Oxyacetylene torch. There’s eye protection needed for welding, proper setup of a 24-foot ladder against a building, correct operation of a chop saw, and always wearing safety glasses and gloves when required.

Slow Down, and walk through the procedures

We’ve learned so many safety steps that you can’t commit them all to memory, so you have to slow down and walk through the procedures before you start your project each day. We also have a responsibility to keep classmates safe as well, so always be looking out for the person beside you. Remember that one loose wire, one stray shard of scrap metal, one oily rag, or one slip on a ladder, can change your life forever.

Stop and walk through your safety steps every time you start at your job site, and always be aware of anything that doesn’t look safe.

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


How to Prevent Buying Painful Safety Shoes

You know that feeling you get when you commit to something, and you know from the start that you shouldn’t? Like lease agreements in not-so-great apartments, expensive gym memberships, and last but certainly not least, improper fitting safety toe shoes that cause painful rubbing sensations on your toes?

Each one of those scenarios is painful for different reasons, and we’ve all been there. While we can’t help you with all of the issues above, we can certainly give you some guidance on how to find the perfect fit when it comes to safety toe footwear… one out of three bad scenarios isn’t the best, but darn it, it’s something!

Let’s jump in…

Remember, safety toe comfort comes in length, not width

You have to get a shoe long enough to accommodate the back and forth toe movement in the shoes. The proper fit happens when the widest point of your foot (the ball) is located exactly in the widest part of the shoe. When that happens, the arch of your foot fits precisely with the arch of the shoe, giving you maximum support.

So what’s happening?

Your arch has probably dropped over the years, extending the toes of the shoes forward. This back and forth motion of your toes is why you need to fit your shoes (not just safety shoes) using your arch measurement.

Are you measuring up?

The arch measurement can be obtained with a Brannock Foot Measuring Device, you can find this in most reputable shoe stores. For more information on how to measure your feet, check out our blog here.

Suggestion: Try to get your foot measured in a shoe store before you buy your next pair of safety shoes to see if your arch has dropped a little, extending the toes further into your shoes to the point where they are rubbing the safety toe.

Reason: As we age and potentially get weaker and heavier your arch drops. When the arch drops, it causes our feet to get longer. It happens to everyone! We know, in your younger days your shoe size might have been 9.5; and now you wear an 11 at 50 years of age. Over that time, you’ve probably also gone from a 32-inch waist to a 36, and packed on a few extra pounds. Time is, after all, a cruel master.

Now, your foot really hasn’t grown in this timespan, it’s just changed shape (the same thing happened to our waistlines… right?). The arch drops and the toes and arch extend further in the shoe. All this means is that you need a longer shoe.

If you are finding that you still don’t seem to have enough distance widthwise, you can look into getting a wider safety toe shoe.

One final tip: Bigger brands typically have their shoes made by different manufacturers. Different styles within the same brand may fit differently because of this fact. Again, the most reliable solution is to try the shoes on and test the location of the “ball” of your foot in the shoe to make sure you are getting the right fit.

Try out some of these tips, and you should be able to find the perfect fit!

Still a little confused? Our retail store associates and Mobile Shoe Managers are all trained and ready to help you find the best safety toe shoes for your needs! Click here to find a location near you!

Dealing With Foot Pain (From Standing All Day)

In many of the industries that our customers work in, you’re required to be on your feet for eight hours a day or longer. People who work in factories, warehouses, outdoor construction sites and more are expected to stand nearly all day, and we understand that doing your best work sometimes gets a bit difficult when your feet and legs are screaming at you. So if standing on your feet all day is causing you to wish for a broken leg and eight weeks off of work, read on for some tips on how to keep the pain in your feet to a minimum after a long day.

Change how you stand

Yes, you’ve been standing since you learned how to walk, so we trust that you know how to do it fairly well by now. However, you may still be standing incorrectly while working. First, don’t lock your knees and stand in the same position for long periods of time. This puts stress on your joints and will cause pain and potential health problems later in life. Also, it might cause you to get light headed and pass out. And while that does get you out of work, good luck facing your coworkers the next day after you passed out on the roof and fell through a window.

Casually bounce on your knees often and do some simple leg stretches during your shift. Also, make sure that your weight is not always shifted more on one leg than the other. Balance your weight equally between both of your feet.

Take some “posture breaks”

When you do get quick breaks from work and you’re scarfing down as much food as you can before it ends, remember to use these times as a chance to change your poster a bit and do some easy foot exercises. A good one to try is rolling, and this is when you remove your shoes (away from your coworkers, please and thanks), and roll a tennis or lacrosse ball around under each foot for one to five minutes. This “massage” gives your feet some relief before standing again.

Lunges are also a great way to stretch out your thigh and hamstring muscles when you get a free minute or two. They get you out of your standing posture and give your leg muscles a chance to “breathe” by stretching them out. Also, ankle rolls are a great way to relieve some stress on your feet. Roll your foot clockwise and counterclockwise from the ankle down 10 to 15 times. These are best to do when you’re sitting down so that you don’t have to stand on one leg while doing them.

Did we say strrrreeeetch?

Do some foot stretches! The plantar muscle runs from the back of your feet to the toes, and it gets tight and painful after being used all day. You can stretch it out in a few different ways. You could simply cross one leg over the other while sitting and grab the big toe and pull on it to create a nice stretch. Or you could stretch your leg out and wrap a towel around the bottom of your foot and pull on it that way.

These stretches, combined with the rolling and lunges that we mentioned earlier, are a great way to relieve your feet and calves from the pain of standing and walking around all day.

Make sure you have on the proper footwear

If you’re trying to work on your feet for eight hours a day in shoes with little to no padding or cushioning, best of luck to you. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you when you’re laying in bed that night wondering if you’ll ever be able to walk again. Having shoes with extra padding and cushioning that actually support your feet make a world of difference during those long days on your feet.

Also, getting your feet and shoes properly sized is necessary if you don’t want them to pinch or rub the wrong way all day. You’d hate to be working on a construction site with blisters all over your feet by noon. The last thing we need is you in horrible pain with a drill in your hand. So follow these tips, get your feet properly measured, and enjoy the pain-free work days!

Looking for more tips and tricks when it comes to safety toe footwear? Learn more at

Let’s Have a Fire Drill

Fire drills sure are annoying, aren’t they? You get your day (or night) interrupted by a wailing siren, and you’re then forced to drop whatever you’re doing and walk outside for a few minutes. And if you don’t find them annoying, you’ve obviously never had one happen while you’re in the shower.

Yes, these drills can be an inconvenience, but you have to do them for a reason. Fires can arise at any time, and these drills put a routine in your mind for what to do when your place of work or home gets set ablaze.

So let’s run through a fire drill of our own and lay out the steps that you should take during a fire at work.

First, don’t let it happen

Obviously, the best way to handle a fire is without the actual fire. Preventative measures should always be taken to ensure that there are no fire hazards at work. All electrical wiring and panels should be regularly inspected and checked to make sure that they are running properly and not cluttered together.

Also, all combustible waste should be properly disposed of in the correct location. All machines in your workplace should be properly maintained as well to avoid any overheating or explosions. And lastly, all emergency exits should be clear and all fire extinguishers should be fully loaded at all times.

Oh no, you let it happen

If you ignored that first section and actually set the place on fire, remain calm. The last thing that you should be doing is running around and screaming like a five-year-old who lost their mom in a grocery store. Let’s go through the steps that you should take to remain safe during a fire:

Step 1: Raise the alarm (not your blood pressure) and call the fire station

Fires can develop very quickly, so you should raise the workplace alarm as soon as possible. Also, call the Fire and Rescue service and give them the building name, address, and any other helpful information such as the size of the fire and location of it.

The emergency fire services will arrive quickly to snuff out the fire and sweep through the building to check for any stranded people. They do the hard part; you just need to get out of the building, which leads us to…

Step 2: Evacuate

Here’s where all of those annoying fire drills come in handy! As we said earlier, remain calm as you make your way to the nearest exit. Do not attempt to retrieve any personal belongings on your way out of the building. Your precious iPhone and and credit cards can be replaced at some point. You, on the other hand, can not be.

Also, never try to use elevators of any kind during a fire. They’ll likely stop working, and then you’ll be trapped inside a smoke box. On your way out of the building, make sure that someone puts their hand on all closed doors before entering them to feel if they’re warm or not. Also, the last person through should close all doors behind them to keep the fire from spreading too quickly.

If you’re finding that your escape route is full of smoke, get down on the ground and crawl to safety. The air will be cleaner down there.

Step 3: Get to the meeting point

When you complete those fire drills, you go outside to a certain location to meet up with everyone else. This meeting point should be a safe distance away from the burning building. You’d hate to escape the roaring fire only to have it blow up and get you outside.

Here, a headcount can be done, and you can wait for the Fire and Rescue service to arrive.

If you do end up trapped inside…

If you are unable to get outside or you just didn’t feel like paying attention during those fire drills, try to get to a room with a window. You should use some towels or clothes to block the cracks under the doors to prevent smoke from entering. And if your clothes ever do happen to catch fire, always remember to stop, drop and roll (it really does work!).

Hopefully, the closest you’ll ever come to a real fire is those pesky fire drills. As inconvenient as they might seem, pay attention during them and remember these tips. They might just save your life!

For more helpful tips and information, you can always visit us at

Staying Safe in an Electric Environment

It’s getting electric in here.

Actually though, electricity is everywhere. It’s in our homes, at work, in the sky, underground; and it’s not very fun when it shocks us. Many people working in the trade industry work with electricity on a daily basis, and it’s important to know how to be safe around it. Electrical hazards can cause shocks, burns, and even workplace fires if the hazard is too large.

So let’s simmer things down in here and learn how to be safe in a “lit” environment.

How does electricity actually work?

We know that science might not be your forte, but bare with us for a second…

Electricity flows through conductors, and these are surfaces that offer very little resistance to the flow of electricity (such as metals). Insulators stop the flow of electricity, and these can be surfaces like glass, plastic, clay, dry wood, etc. However, water can turn these insulators into conductors very quickly. You know the dry wood that you’re using to cover up some wires? Well, it just rained and now it’s a giant lightning rod. Zap.

The shocking facts

Electricity travels in closed circuits, typically through conductors. However, when you decide to come into contact with one of these conductors, then congratulations! Your own body is now a conductor, and you’re being shocked.

What happens when this electricity jolts through your body? If it’s a small amount of electricity, you’ll only feel a slight, albeit annoying, shock. If the amount increases, your muscles will contract and your body will “freeze” due to the shock. If the electricity levels rise above this, you’re flirting with heart failure and death. So let’s not try that.

Staying safe

According to OSHA, most electrical accidents result from either unsafe equipment, an unsafe work environment, or unsafe work practices. The best ways to prevent electrical injuries is through the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, circuit protection devices, and safe work practices.

Insulators, like we mentioned earlier, are materials used to coat metals and other conductors to stop them from, well, conducting. Insulation on conductors is often color coded as well.

Guarding involves enclosing or hiding electric equipment to ensure that people don’t accidentally come into contact with it. If you’re using electric equipment with exposed parts that could be dangerous, hide this equipment away in a separate room or vault and place adequate warning signs around it. Only qualified professionals should have access to this hidden area.

Grounding means intentionally creating a low-resistance path that connects the tool or electrical system to the earth. This prevents a buildup of voltages, but doesn’t completely remove the risk of electric shock. Grounding should be combined with other methods that we’ve mentioned.

Circuit protection devices limit or stop the flow of an electric current automatically in a necessary situation like a short circuit or overload of a system. Examples of these devices are fuses and circuit breakers. Essentially, these are your best friends in a highly electric environment.

While all of the methods that we’ve mentioned will help with electrical hazards, the best way to prevent electrical accidents is through safe work practices. De-energize all electric equipment before inspections or repairs, keep all electric tools properly maintained, exercise caution when working near electric lines, and always wear appropriate protective equipment.

Looking for some safety shoes that reduce the risk of electric hazards? Feel free to check us out at

Recovering From Foot Injuries

Recovering from Foot Injuries

Feet get injured more often than you would think. They carry the weight of your entire body, so that places a lot of stress on them every day (some of us more than others, take from that what you will). There’s obviously never a good time for a foot injury to keep you stuck in bed or on a couch, but the recovery process can be relatively simple if done correctly. Here’s our steps for recovering from a foot injury:

Rest and Assess

So your foot is swollen and painful, and life just seems terrible right now. But congratulations! You get to lay around and do nothing for 48-72 hours or longer. Enjoy all of the binge watching, video gaming, and napping while you can. When you suffer a foot injury, one of the biggest things you need to do is keep off of that foot as much as possible! And you should definitely not attempt the activity that caused the injury again (that means no working, oh no).

If you are completely unable to put any weight on the foot and it’s becoming really swollen, it’s time for a doctor to take a look at it. They went to medical school and we didn’t, so they’ll be able to treat your injury and tell you how to recover.

And it may seem like common sense, but don’t do anything that may further aggravate the injury. No running, jumping, exercising, climbing, brazilian jiu jitsu or any work-related activities that may injure your foot. You’re an elementary schooler on summer vacation again. Embrace the temporary nothingness!

Ice and Elevate

When you suffer a foot injury, your body’s immediate response is to flood the area with blood and cause swelling. Don’t be mad at your body; it’s only trying to help.

To reduce this swelling and pain, apply ice to the foot for about 30 minutes every two to three hours. Do not over-ice your foot or go to sleep with an ice pack on. We’re trying to heal the injury, not create another one by giving you frostbite.

Another way to reduce this swelling is to lay down and elevate your foot by resting it on a pillow or something similar. Here’s your excuse to lay in bed and watch TV all day. And if the pain is still too much, try either wrapping the foot using a compression wrap (not too tightly) or reach for the ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet.

R&R (Relax and Rehab)

Only your doctor will know your specific rehabilitation schedule, so once again, listen to them over an internet blog. Once your pain and swelling has subsided, begin attempting some light activities slowly. Swimming is a great exercise to try that isn’t too hard on your feet. We don’t want you running a marathon just yet.

Always warm up and stretch your injured foot first to make sure that it’s actually ready to try an exercise like swimming again. Your mobility will come back slowly, so don’t rush it at first. Increase your foot’s workload bit by bit as you recover, and if you ever suddenly feel the pain coming back, stop your activity immediately.

Stabilize and Recover

Depending on the severity of your injury, it could take weeks or months before you can walk again. As you eventually begin walking again, you can always use a cane or pair of crutches to assist you. Make sure you follow up with your doctor to ensure that your foot has recovered properly.

Also during this recovery process, wear stable shoes! No flip flops or high heels that can cause trips and sprains. And if your injury was caused at work thanks to shoes lacking in stability and safety attributes such as slip resistant soles or safety toes, feel free to check out all of our safety shoes at

Factory Safety

Working in a factory, warehouse, or any other type of industrial manufacturing setting is obviously much different than an office job. And while these challenging but exciting positions are extremely rewarding, there are potential hazards almost everywhere while on the job.

That means it’s your job to take all of the extra precautions and time to ensure that you and your coworkers remain safe every day. So strap in, tighten your laces, double-check that the forklift is parked, and let’s take a trip through Factory Safety 101!

Use all equipment properly, and wear the required safety attire

When working in factories or any manufacturing setting, you’re almost guaranteed to have to use some type of machinery, tools, or other equipment. These machines are usually a lot stronger and more powerful than we are, so make sure that you actually take the time to learn how to use it properly.

Hint hint: As lame as it is, take the time to read the instruction manual thoroughly. Don’t just assume that the way your coworker does it is correct.

And don’t forget about the required equipment to keep you safe either. Whether this is a pair of safety goggles, a mandatory hard hat, or your own pair of steel-toed boots, make sure that you have all of your PPE (personal protective equipment) on and take care of it as well. Damaged safety equipment is as effective as a leaky roof during a thunderstorm. Neither gets the job done, so take care of your equipment!

Keep work areas and emergency exits clear

Emergencies can arise at any time and are typically never expected. No one checks their daily calendar after arriving at work and sees: “Large factory fire, 2 p.m. today.” Therefore, it’s your job to ensure that all work areas and emergency exits are clear at all times during the day.

A cluttered work area can mean that you don’t have the space to do your job or use large machinery and tools. So make sure that everything is put on its proper shelf as soon as possible, and make sure that it’s secure up there. You’d hate to be walking next to a shelf and get crushed by a stocked dishwasher plummeting toward the earth. Besides, heavier objects should be kept on lower shelves anyway.

And never leave large objects or machines in front of emergency exits. Remember, you have that large fire scheduled for today at 2.

Now, let’s prevent that fire!

After you see a fire on your calendar, you decide that you’re just not feeling like running from the building today, so let’s prevent it from happening. To eliminate fire hazards, you need to use caution with all combustible materials in your workplace. If you are using these materials, only keep the amount that you need for the task at hand. When you aren’t using these materials, store them in assigned storage spaces away from all possible points of ignition

If you’ve worked in a factory long enough, you know that dust is everywhere. All it takes is a single spark to turn this dust into a fire-breathing monster, so use industrial vacuums to frequently clean areas that accumulate dust. Your lungs will thank you, too!

Lift correctly, take breaks, and if you see something…say something

No one wants a back injury, so keep your back straight when picking up a heavy item. No twisting, turning or stooping while lifting. And you can always make life easier on yourself by using a machine or forklift to do the work for you.

When you feel tired, take a short break. If you were alert earlier, you would have noticed that dishwasher hurtling down toward you at light speed. Most workplace injuries occur because the employee is too tired to adequately get the job done in a safe manner.

And lastly, if you see an unsafe condition anywhere that you are unable to clear safely, inform your supervisor. They’re legally obligated to keep you and your coworkers safe, so they’ll take care of it!

Looking for more info on how to protect yourself on the job? Check us out at to learn more!

Exercises for Preventing Foot Injuries

Unfortunately, people don’t always wear safety shoes when they should. Obviously, we don’t recommend doing that. You could hurt yourself and cost your company a lot of money. And unless you really hate your job, who wants that to happen?

However, sometimes accidents just happen. But there are some foot exercises that you can do on a regular basis to prevent these injuries.

Heel and Toe Walks

Heels and toes aren’t getting along right now, so let’s take each of them on separate walks for this exercise. Basically, spend a minute or so walking around on your heels, and then spend another minute or two walking on just your toes. This can improve strength in different areas of your feet and improve mobility, by isolating various parts of your foot.

Toe Lifts

Do you even toe lift, bro?

Yes, your toes can lift too. However, you’ll only be lifting a marble instead of a giant dumbbell (don’t try lifting a dumbbell with your toes, please. You won’t look cool). Use your toes to pick up a marble and lift it up. Hold the marble in the air for 20 seconds, repeat twice, and then switch feet and do the same thing. If you’re finding that that’s too easy, try using just one toe at a time.

Foot Taps

Here’s an exercise that you can do while sitting (the best kind of exercise). Simply sit with your feet on the floor and tap them 50 times with your heel remaining on the ground. You can even play airport background noises and pretend that you’re waiting for a flight that’s been delayed twice already.

Toe Spelling

Let’s take your feet to school. For this exercise, you will need to elevate one foot, and then write the alphabet in the air with your toes. This flexes your ankle and uses a lot of muscles in your feet. After you’ve finished with one foot, do the same thing with the other one. You can even sing along out loud (best recommended if you live alone).

Toe Spread

While seated (woo!), place a thick rubber band around your toes. You can use two bands if one isn’t tight enough to provide resistance. Spread your toes apart and hold this position for five seconds. Do this 10 times on both feet.

All of these exercises are designed to work the small muscles in your toes and feet to strengthen them and improve your overall balance. All of these exercises help to roll your feet through their full range of motion, making them better prepared for any possible accidents at work. With stronger toes and feet and a better overall balance, you’ll be less prone to foot injuries.

Want more information on how to protect your feet, or the products we offer? Check us out at   

Preparing for an OSHA Safety Inspection


OSHA inspections can arise at any time, and it’s crucial that you’re prepared for it in order to avoid any negative consequences to your company.

First, let’s take a look at what can prompt an OSHA inspection:

  • Workplace catastrophes and fatalities
  • Employee complaints
  • Referrals (can come from any corporation, including other government agencies)
  • Programmed inspections
    • Could be based on emphasis programs, injury rates, or previous citations
  • Random inspections
  • Follow-up inspections

Since most inspections aren’t announced beforehand, it’s important to have a plan in place before your favorite OSHA inspector comes knocking.

Identify your Safety Manager and Back-up

First, an employee should be identified as a safety manager who walks the OSHA representative around while they are conducting their inspection. A “Plan B” person should also be assigned in case the safety manager is out on the day of the inspection. Always ask to see the representative’s identification to ensure that they are not an imposter before conducting the inspection.

Get your Information Straight

Before the inspection begins, you will be informed about the reasoning behind the inspection. The inspector will also ask for basic information about the facility, including the type of work performed, number of employees, names of those in charge and contact information.

Duration and Preparation

The length of the inspection will vary depending on the focus and size of the facility. It could take anywhere from a day to multiple weeks. The inspector will likely ask for documents relevant to the inspection (e.g. injury and illness logs), and it is important to have these documents accurate and readily available at all times.

Safety Guidelines for Footwear

When it comes to protective footwear, general requirements state that, “the employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, and where such employee’s feet are exposed to electrical hazards.”

Saf-GardTM is committed to providing your company with up-to-date safety shoes, ensuring that your employees are in compliance with all OSHA regulations. To learn more about OSHA regulations, just visit

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy

You’re on your feet for at least eight hours a day, and 40 hours a week. It’s time to give them a little TLC for all of the stress and pressure (literally and figuratively) that they are under every single day. Check out our foot facts infographic to educate yourself a little more about your most reliable transportation system,  and learn how to protect yourself from the ground up!

Download your FREE foot fact infographic here to share with employees, colleagues, and managers today!

For more information about how to keep your feet safe on the job and see our selection on safety shoes, visit us online at