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Author Topic: Fighting the corporate uniform  (Read 856 times)
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nickz
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« on: April 03, 2012, 01:21:06 AM »

As I just replied here today I was informed by my Logistics Manager that I could no longer wear my VFFs on shows for work, but in our warehouse it was fine. I have been wearing them at this job for 9 months now without any problems. Tomorrow I plan on going back to him to discuss the matter further and attempt to regain my comfort.

I think I already have a strong case against it, but any insight from other forum members would be welcome.

First, some background to my work environment: I work in a warehouse with a cement floor. We have thousands of pieces of heavy(90+lb lights, 70+lb aluminum truss, 80/160lb steel plates for mounting pipe, etc.) gear, most of which lives in cases like these: . I drive a forklift and carry coils of cable upwards of 60 lb. All of this seems like a terrible place to wear VFFs and yet I've been doing so for months. About once every 2-3 months I roll a case over a pinky toe ever so slightly, mostly only grabbing the rubber of the shoe. It hurts for no more than 5 minutes. I am still permitted to wear my VFFs doing this although I have to be in "uniform" which is black pants or shorts, a black logo'd T-shirt or collared shirt and black or brown shoes.

The other side of the job I take that gear to shows and we have to set it up. This includes be in random locations, sometimes with carpet, sometimes on grass. Sometimes indoors in an air-conditioned room, other times in the heat of the sun and forcibly in pants. Setting up, we work in pairs/teams and a helping hand is always within ear-shot. Uniform: black pants, black logo'd collared shirt, black or brown shoes.

Having worn VFFs exclusively for the last 10 months, my feet are much stronger than they were before my transition. My toes are larger, more flexible and resilient to harm. Most often when people say negative comments about them, I put my toes on top of their shoe and press down with only my toes until it hurts their foot. They then respect how much stronger my foot is compared to theirs. I feel I can jump higher in them than with a heavier "real" shoe and I can move my feet out of harms way faster. As most other VFF wearers, I am also much more aware of my surroundings and what is on the ground than I was in larger shoes.

Now, I am under the impression that I have had 2 complaints against my wearing them. The first as I was told directly by my Project Manager(PM) Gary that he did not like me working under him with them on for "safety" concerns. The second was my off-handed comment to a coworker that was overheard by a different PM about my not wanting to go outside because it was raining and I didn't want to get wet.

My arguments against for being able to continue wearing them are as follows, and I would like anyone's insight and help to fight this prejudice against toe shoes:
Regarding the water thing - I had a bad selection of VFFs that day. My all-leather pair would have faired fine, and if they wish it, I can make that my only pair I wear to work.
The "safety" concern is dropping things on my feet/toes. This comes from Gary who last year dropped an 80Lb base on his foot and broke toes. He was wearing "real" shoes and it still broke them. Nothing short of steel toe safety shoes will prevent that, and unless all employees are to wear safety toe shoes, I shouldn't have to change my footwear either.
They look "unprofessional"/client's might think they're weird looking. On the contrary - many times I have been curiously questioned about them and why I wear them. Often these conversations lead to the person asking where they can get a pair. Never - not once - have I been told my shoes are ugly or that someone doesn't like them.


We the minimalist/toe shoe wearing community need to not only wear our shoes proudly, but know everything about why we wear them and be able to fight back against those who don't like them. You can have a hundred people tell you they're cool and they admire you're bravery for wearing such funny looking shoes, but it only takes one prejudice jerk to take it all away from you.
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« on: April 03, 2012, 01:21:06 AM »

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paulr
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 05:48:22 AM »

Obviously work safety requirements vary by country - here in the UK to work in a warehouse the minimum PPE consists of safety boots and high-viz vest (failing to wear them at any time in the appropriate places is a discipinary), some also insist on safety helmets.  Personally Im staggered that safety boots/shoes arent compulsory but then Im conditioned to UK laws....Garys accident should have been investigated to see how his injuries could be prevented

Should your supervisor stop you wearing them on a safety concern then he has to show consistency across all other warehouse employees, but remember this could make you unpopular with your workmates if they have to change their footwear.  

However you may have grounds for precedent being set in that you have worn them for several months already.  However your comment that "you didnt want to get wet" might well be used against you and so it should (from a management perspective) as it indicated that your choice of footwear was preventing you from doing your job

« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 01:03:28 PM by paulr » Logged
vfftriathlete
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 12:19:00 PM »

Obviously work safety requirements vary by country - here in the UK to work in a warehouse the minimum PPE consists of safety boots and high-viz vest (failing to wear them at any time in the appropriate places is a discipinary), some also insist on safety helmets.  Personally Im staggered that safety boots/shoes arent compulsory but them Im conditioned to UK laws....Garys accident should have been investigated to see how his injuries could be prevented

Should your supervisor stop you wearing them on a safety concern then he has to show consistency across all other warehouse employees, but remember this could make you unpopular with your workmates if they have to change their footwear. 

However you may have grounds for precedent being set in that you have worn them for several months already.  However your comment that "you didnt want to get wet" might well be used against you and so it should (from a management perspective) as it indicated that your choice of footwear was preventing you from doing your job



And also as I remember it from UK if your employer has to provide said PPE so if they decide you all have to be in steel toed footwear then they have to provide said footwear.
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 01:02:37 PM »

Obviously work safety requirements vary by country - here in the UK to work in a warehouse the minimum PPE consists of safety boots and high-viz vest (failing to wear them at any time in the appropriate places is a discipinary), some also insist on safety helmets.  Personally Im staggered that safety boots/shoes arent compulsory but them Im conditioned to UK laws....Garys accident should have been investigated to see how his injuries could be prevented

Should your supervisor stop you wearing them on a safety concern then he has to show consistency across all other warehouse employees, but remember this could make you unpopular with your workmates if they have to change their footwear. 

However you may have grounds for precedent being set in that you have worn them for several months already.  However your comment that "you didnt want to get wet" might well be used against you and so it should (from a management perspective) as it indicated that your choice of footwear was preventing you from doing your job



And also as I remember it from UK if your employer has to provide said PPE so if they decide you all have to be in steel toed footwear then they have to provide said footwear.

I thought that too - but I know Argos insist on safety footwear but expect the employee/contractor to supply their own - though they do offer supposed discounted footwear.  I was supplied with steel boots at a client I was at a few years back and kept them - they are incredibly comfortable
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 01:02:37 PM »

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Stefanie
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 01:06:20 PM »

I am just amused by you saying you toe-wrestle with other people who have bad things to say about your VFF's. LOL  Cheesy
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 10:10:56 PM »

I'm in the US by the way.
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 10:53:50 PM »

If everything is that heavy, and this guy, Gary, already dropped something and broke his toes, shouldnt that make you want to wear safety shoes?Huh
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 11:25:09 PM »

I'm not worried in the least bit. His injury resulted from improper handling of equipment. The way I see it is that the only way to be safe is to wear safety toe shoes - VFFs or "regular" shoes will not protect you enough. Since we do not have a rule for wearing safety toes I should be allowed to continue my wear of comfortable shoes.

Today I wore steel toe boots and was extremely clumsy. I am completely not used to the extra thickness of shoe soles nor the extra weight on my leg. I tripped over many things and almost fell off a ladder. To me, this is MUCH more dangerous than being light and nimble in VFFs. My feet were also hurting in a few spots that I know if I continue wearing them will blister. I have never had a blister from VFFs.
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 11:57:08 PM »

Most often when people say negative comments about them, I put my toes on top of their shoe and press down with only my toes until it hurts their foot. They then respect how much stronger my foot is compared to theirs.

This is an amazing idea.  Thanks for the suggestion! 
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2012, 06:58:16 AM »

better ask for permission first. 
if you've got some coworkers that have an agenda with you, in some states that'd count as assault. (can see the headlines now. Gorilla foot wearer assaults coworker with pinky toe). 

They're more costly but I'd recommend a pair of Merrell tough gloves for getting them off your case.  Although much of my job is a desk one, I do move heaving equipment and boxes around relatively frequently in a warehouse and a datacenter and I'm 1 yr plus months in with mine as a work shoe with nobody complaining. 
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2012, 11:02:10 AM »

I'm not worried in the least bit. His injury resulted from improper handling of equipment. The way I see it is that the only way to be safe is to wear safety toe shoes - VFFs or "regular" shoes will not protect you enough. Since we do not have a rule for wearing safety toes I should be allowed to continue my wear of comfortable shoes.

Today I wore steel toe boots and was extremely clumsy. I am completely not used to the extra thickness of shoe soles nor the extra weight on my leg. I tripped over many things and almost fell off a ladder. To me, this is MUCH more dangerous than being light and nimble in VFFs. My feet were also hurting in a few spots that I know if I continue wearing them will blister. I have never had a blister from VFFs.

I know this seems to be a pretty common theme on this site but it amazes me.  Most of us have worn traditional shoes our entire lives but after a short time in VFF's or barefoot we forget how to move in them?  I can take off my classics, put on a pair of steel toed timberlands and be on my way with no issue.
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 11:56:54 AM »

Not threadjacking but there is a perception here in the UK that we are moving towards a US 'sue culture' - or that we perceive that suing someone for what appears to be virtually anything is common in the US (sorry if thats wrong or if I offended anyone).  UK Tv adverts are on about getting compensation for accidents at work etc on a no-win no-fee basis

Anyway if Garys accident happened in the UK either he would have a case for damages/loss of wages due to his accident or (in complete opposite) he wouldnt have a leg to stand on (bad pun, groan) if he wasnt wearing required PPE or didnt follow company procedures (assuming adequate training was provided) is this not the same in the US ??   

I still cant comprehend that safety shoes are not required for a warehouse environment or even Hi-viz jackets where forklifts are in use - do work regulations vary by state ?
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 02:23:25 PM »

I work in a lab at a large oil refinery, and the company I work for does 'safety overkill'. The lab requires steel toe shoes whenever you are in the main lab section. There is nothing heavy at all out there that could bust your feet open, so it's a bit much. I tried to use a Canadian equivalent of OSHAtoes, but due to a part of the CSA certificate that said 'this product is not meant to replace safety shoes' I couldn't use them at work.

That said, I have moved up in the lab and now have a job where I'm in an office 80% of the time. I have to go out into the refinery to climb smokestacks and work on analysers at heights. I just got some VB oaks in, so I wear those in the office, but the big ol' safety boots, nomex coveralls with reflective torso, hard hat, hearing protection and safety goggles. Sometimes a full mask respirator depending where I go. I don't enjoy being all suited up, but it comes with the job. I'm glad I can wear comfortable shoes when I'm not out in the plant at least.

I'd love to not have to wear steel toed footwear, but I'm stuck with wearing them. I may look at having a cobbler modify the soles, but that is tough since there are none around. That or I go the custom made route, for wide, and comfy.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 04:34:23 PM by The Yeti » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2012, 11:52:31 PM »

I'm not worried in the least bit. His injury resulted from improper handling of equipment. The way I see it is that the only way to be safe is to wear safety toe shoes - VFFs or "regular" shoes will not protect you enough. Since we do not have a rule for wearing safety toes I should be allowed to continue my wear of comfortable shoes.

Today I wore steel toe boots and was extremely clumsy. I am completely not used to the extra thickness of shoe soles nor the extra weight on my leg. I tripped over many things and almost fell off a ladder. To me, this is MUCH more dangerous than being light and nimble in VFFs. My feet were also hurting in a few spots that I know if I continue wearing them will blister. I have never had a blister from VFFs.

I know this seems to be a pretty common theme on this site but it amazes me.  Most of us have worn traditional shoes our entire lives but after a short time in VFF's or barefoot we forget how to move in them?  I can take off my classics, put on a pair of steel toed timberlands and be on my way with no issue.

*LIKE*

. . . shoes are shoes. FFs are just better shoes. The whole "FFs have ruined regular shoes for me" line of thinking is just bunk.  I wore regular shoes for 30 years. Putting them on for work is not a problem. 
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