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A commonly held misconception is that slips and falls frequently involve women wearing high heels or other fashionable footwear.
Unless a large number of men is regularly cross-dressing at work, however, that belief appears to be unfounded, research shows.
More than 59% of same-level falls and 79% of falls from an elevation involve males, according to claims data collected by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and reported in a memorandum aimed at stamping out common workers compensation myths and misconceptions.
While high heels may not be the culprits behind most workplace slip-and-fall losses, shoes are a factor, several restaurant risk managers are finding out.
After analyzing his company's slip-and-fall trends, Kurt Leisure, director-risk management for Irvine, Calif.-based Family Res-taurants Inc., found that claims recently fell 78% while claims expenses dropped 76%, he said.
Part of the reason for the improvement is likely due to employees wearing slip-resistant shoes purchased from West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Shoes for Crews Inc., Mr. Leisure said. Shoes for Crews have a patented sole that grips the floor, and more than 65% of the company's employees are ordering the shoes on an annual basis.
It's not easy to get employees to wear the shoes, he said.
"Employees are going to rebel against anything you do," Mr. Leisure said. "But once they start wearing the shoes, they love them. It's just saved us a ton of money."
Like several other risk managers in his industry, Mr. Leisure has had good luck encouraging employees to wear the shoes by providing a payroll deduction program to pay for the shoes that are purchased for work.
Another California risk manager, who asked not to be identified, said she does not have statistical evidence, but she strongly believes that Shoes for Crews are reducing injuries. Wearing them is voluntary.
To encourage managers to promote the shoes, an individual restaurant is not charged for a fall-related loss if an injured worker was wearing the shoes at the time of the accident, the risk manager said. Otherwise, her corporation has a policy of allocating workers compensation losses back to individual restaurant units.
"I have some stores that have almost 100% enrollment in Shoes for Crews," she said. "It's all about the manager believing in it and saying, 'This is the right way to do it.' "
For his restaurants, Shoes for Crews is working on a program that could cut the cost of some of its products by $5, said Christopher E. Mandel, senior director-worldwide risk management for Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., based in Louisville, Ky. Tricon operates Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell restaurants. The savings are important because many restaurant workers are low-wage earners, he said.
Shoes for Crews products range in price from $21 to $66.