Height of fashion raises the risk level

Standing in heels all day can cause strain to feet and result in a range of injuries. Photo / Greg Bowker
Standing in heels all day can cause strain to feet and result in a range of injuries. Photo / Greg Bowker

There's one workplace danger that has sparked debate for decades - high heels.

Many workplaces require women to wear heels, such as fashion retail and make-up counters. As well, many women feel that heels boost their status in the workplace, by increasing their height to put them on an equal footing with male colleagues.

But standing in heels all day can cause strain to feet and result in a range of injuries. In Britain last decade, the Council of Trade Unions passed a motion demanding that women have the right to wear comfortable shoes at work - prompting newspaper headlines claiming "killjoy" unionists were trying to ban heels at work.

Dress codes at work are dictated by company policy, and generally reflect the nature of the job - flip-flops in a steel plant, for example, would be an absolute no-go.

But while employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent injury, including setting appropriate dress codes, high heels fall into a grey zone in some workplaces.

They don't appear to present an immediate danger, but a creaky set of stairs or rush to the printer can result in serious injuries.

ACC claims for high heel-related incidents have risen as higher heels have returned to fashion. In 2013, ACC faced 780 claims for injuries related to high heels.

As a workplace health and safety issue, they present much less of an immediate danger than forestry or agriculture, but still cost taxpayers when the heel doesn't hit the step.

- NZ Herald

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