Shoelace Safety in the Workplace

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If you wear shoes with laces, you probably think you know how to tie them. I intend to prove you wrong, but let's begin with a workplace injury. Jeffrey Lafon worked for Iron Tiger Logistics in Ohio. His job involved moving new trucks onto trailers for delivery to customers. In October 2013 he was boarding a company shuttle, when he tripped on his untied shoelaces and fell, injuring his shoulder. He filed a workers comp claim, which was initially accepted, but later denied. His appeal ...

If you wear shoes with laces, you probably think you know how to tie them. I intend to prove you wrong, but let’s begin with a workplace injury. Jeffrey Lafon worked for Iron Tiger Logistics in Ohio. His job involved moving new trucks onto trailers for delivery to customers. In October 2013 he was boarding a company shuttle, when he tripped on his untied shoelaces and fell, injuring his shoulder. He filed a workers comp claim, which was initially accepted, but later denied. His appeal reached the Ohio Court of Appeals (PDF), where he once again lost .

There is no question that his injury occurred “in the course and scope of employment”, but the question is whether it arose “out of” employment. The appeals court determined that there was no causal relationship between Lafon’s being at work and his being injured: he fell simply because he failed to tie his shoes properly. He alone was in control of the shoe laces; he alone failed to secure them. The sole cause of the injury was Lafon’s indifference to the state of his laces. He was a walking hazard and his employer had nothing to do with it.

Proper Technique

Which brings us back to the correct method for tying shoe laces. I had long assumed that my mother’s lessons in shoe tying were the first and last words on the matter; I should add that velcro became popular long after my childhood. I recently stumbled upon a Ted Talk by Terry Moore: in this brief presentation, you will learn that you are probably tying your shoes the wrong way. Since applying the deceptively simple techniques in this video, I no longer have to double knot my problematic laces. They stay in place throughout the entire day.

So in the interests of safety and under the premise that it’s never to late to learn, I urge you to check out Moore’s video. Believe me, the simple act of getting dressed in the morning will never be quite the same.

Jon Coppelman

Senior Workers’ Compensation Specialist

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