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Canadian Hospitals Ban Crocs, the Colourful, Lightweight Shoes for Safety Reasons

by Medindia Content Team on August 3, 2007 at 7:23 PM
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Canadian Hospitals Ban Crocs, the Colourful, Lightweight Shoes for Safety Reasons

The colourful, rubberized clogs or shoes are extremely popular among nurses in North America in general.

But hospital administrations across Canada have begun to ban them inside hospital premises saying they are a health and safety hazard.


Nurses and doctors love Crocs because they are light, easy to clean and, most of all, comfortable.

But there are concerns with ventilation holes on the front and the open heel. When working around blood, bodily fluids and sharp objects like syringes, the holes can prove to be a hazard.

"According to us, the Crocs shoes are not safe at all," one expert said.

"Because they are not strong shoes, they are not protective if heavy objects fall - and if needles fall, nurses can get hurt."

The footwear is currently prohibited at Vancouver Coastal Health, the Ottawa Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, and the Hamilton Health Services.

The Ontario Hospital Association has sent a bulletin to about 100 hospitals citing safety concerns for health-care employees wearing Crocs.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in Manitoba is also reviewing whether Crocs pose a safety threat.

Hospitals are also concerned with reaction times being compromised, because clogs are more difficult to run in than traditional hospital footwear.

Another charge against Crocs is that they act as insulators, enabling enough static electricity to be built up to knock out medical equipment.

A few months ago, a Swedish hospital banned its staff from wearing Crocs because they were blamed for at least three incidents in which respirators and other machines malfunctioned.

Footwear policies in hospitals are the responsibility of individual employers, so there is no common apparel requirement across the country. But Renzo Bertolini of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says they get a lot of requests for guidance.

"We have a lot of calls from health-care workers wondering if they can wear these shoes and if there are any guidelines they should know about," he said.

"But we have to tell them to check with their employers." According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Crocs are a "petty issue." "I can't believe hospitals are spending time talking about Crocs while there are more pressing issues, such as retaining staff and overtime hours," said CFNU president Linda Salis.

"Nurses are common-sense people. If the shoes are proven to be unsafe, I am sure they will stop wearing them." While some hospitals are starting to ban them, others agree with the nurses' union and don't see it as an issue.

"It's a fashion faux-pas, but not necessarily a health hazard," said Bruce Conway, spokesperson for the Calgary Health Region. "The region does not have a specific policy on footwear. It's something we expect individual facilities to work out for themselves." "We don't have a problem with them," said Lori Foster, spokeswoman for Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region in Saskatchewan.

"We did some research, and we may look into it again if there's a problem. But at this point we have no reason to believe they could cause any problems." Marie-Sophie Roussin, marketing co-ordinator for Crocs Canada, refused to comment on the safety of its product. But a new model has been developed that she says is more appropriate for hospital employees. The Specialist Croc, with its closed toe and heel and extra foot support, will be available in September.

Source: Medindia

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