The design and purpose of steel toe boots are no mystery. We all know what they are intended for and we’ve all heard the safety pitches. The use of steel toe boots in a work environment has become a requirement within many companies who thrive on and make safety a top priority. But aside from what we’ve been told and what our own common sense brings to the table, proof is in the up close and personal experiences.
Friday, September 15th, 2017 is a day that will forever be remembered in our household. My husband’s day began as it always did and work was well underway; he and his coworkers were performing repairs on a 1500-2000 lb. steel plate structure. Even though caution was used and every safety procedure was followed, they could not foresee the unpredictable events that would follow. Without notice, one of the 4" x 3" wide x 3/16" thick angle iron braces that supported their structure, broke loose, dropping this massive plate on the top of my husband’s foot, pinning it to the ground. He and his partner struggled with all their strength to remove it but quickly realized it was not humanly possible. My husband ended up pinned to the ground for 2-3 minutes before a piece of equipment arrived to remove it. In a bit of shock, my husband felt no pain. It wasn’t until he looked down at his foot that he realized there was a big problem. The right side of his right boot was sliced open just below his toe line. The visual of what appeared inside that slice made it very clear he needed help – oddly, still no pain. In fear of what the inside of his boot held, it was left in place as he was rushed to the hospital. Upon arrival, and after the boot was removed,aside from the obvious it didn’t take us long to realize his middle toe wasn’t moving and had already turned purple. We were amazed, and thankful, to see the other toes still intact but quite baffled as to how this scenario happened. My husband was transported to another hospital where a surgeon was waiting to amputate his severed toe. He had received a crush wound; the equivalent of squishing a grape between your fingers, being held in place by only strings of skin. There was no hope of saving it.
Surgery was a success and he is healing nicely as of now but the question still remained – How was his middle toe the only one wounded when the steel landed across his entire upper foot? After an investigation completed by his company’s safety team, It seems the angle iron support that broke away is what impacted his foot directly (the plate was attached). If you can envision a stick of angle iron laying straight out in front of your foot, shaped like an upside down V, you will notice two points of possible impact. The left side of the angle iron made contact with my husband’s middle toe while the right side of the angle barely skirted the outside of his boot, slicing his boot all the way through the soul but not making direct contact with his small toe. After further investigation and the inspection of his work boots, it was determined the angle iron and the weight of the 1500-2000 lb. plate first hit the steel toe of his boot and then slid onto the unprotected part of his foot. Had the steel made initial contact with my husband’s foot prior to connecting with the steel toe of his boot, my husband would have lost his foot.
*Actual Photo of Angle Iron Involved*
Although we try to live and work as cautiously and as safely as possible, there are simply too many things that are out of our control and accidents do happen, this is when we must rely on safety features and protective devices to aid in such situations. The bottom line is had my husband not been wearing his steel toe boots; a company requirement, he would have lost part, if not all of his right foot.