uvex South Africa and the Rainer Winter Foundation are making a difference in the lives of two hearing-impaired children at Eduplex, a unique school in Pretoria, South Africa. Through their annual sponsorship of the school fees for Thuto (aged 7) and Seabelo (aged 9), uvex South Africa and the Rainer Winter Foundation have provided these children, from disadvantaged backgrounds, an opportunity to receive a first-class education.
Back pain often starts in the feet. Suitable insoles can help those afflicted to restore a sense of harmony to their bodies.
As architects and engineers know only too well, cracks in roof structures are generally an indication of problems with static. This usually begins from the ground up. The human musculoskeletal system is certainly slightly more complex than the average building, but the principle remains the same. The source of back and neck pain is often not to be found anywhere along the spine, but in the place where our bodies are in contact with the ground, namely our feet.
From an anatomical perspective, standing and walking place great strain on the body. These actions are not just felt on the heels, toes and balls of the feet, but their effects are also dispersed among many other sensitive areas. The receptors in the feet play a major role in regulating balance, swiftly registering uneven ground and helping us to adjust. If we accept that the human foot is a work of art, composed of 26 bones in addition to ligaments and muscles, then it’s clear that as a general rule, only specialists such as orthopaedists, podiatrists, orthotists, chiropractors and osteopaths can really understand the complexities of the foot as a whole.
Chain reactions feature prominently in this area. Even the slightest deviation from ideal conditions can result in large differences for those affected. One of the factors in play here is the shape of a foot. This alone can be sufficient to send warning signs high up the back and into the neck when the feet are subjected to irregular strains. In this way, flat-footed people run the risk of harming their pelvis, as this causes it to gradually shift forward. For people with hollow feet, the trend is reversed with the pelvis likely to shift backward.
Alongside differing foot shapes, misaligned feet also represent another cause of back problems. Frequent, long-lasting movements on hard surfaces can cause the arch of the foot to flatten out considerably, fatiguing the muscle structures. In addition, there is also a widespread tendency to point feet outwards in order to improve stability. Should both these issues occur simultaneously, there is a serious risk of severe, long-term back problems. This is a particular cause for concern if displaying strain behaviour, when the ratio of pressure to load between the heel, outside of the foot and big toe is no longer ideally balanced and in proportion.
Suitable insoles offer a solution
So, what are the options? If the foot static changes, the body responds by modifying the positioning of the legs. The spinal column also shifts to correspond with the changes elsewhere, which can only be a negative thing. The muscle structure of the affected person falls victim to this new strain. The consequence is tension which can result in long-term posture problems and is often also the reason for chronic back pain often associated with this.
Is this fate? No. This type of back pain has traditionally been successfully treated with insoles. People who walk with insoles in their shoes ensure that their feet are gradually realigned into a healthier position, thereby supporting the body in regaining its ideal equilibrium. This also applies to wearing shoes, particularly occupation safety footwear. Strain on the feet can be particularly high in the workplace, because employees are often on their feet on hard surfaces such as factory floors for long periods. The important thing to consider here is that the insoles should not just be perfectly adapted to the individual’s foot contours, but also their gait.
Passive and active soles
There are in fact two styles of insoles – passive and active. Passive insoles support the wearer by fixing their feet in the optimal position, thereby passively ensuring the ideal posture. In other words, this means correcting possible deformations or postural issues by raising and propping the arch of the foot. Active insoles (also known as “proprioceptive” or “sensomotoric” insoles” are primarily used when the foot and any possible misaligning, influenced by the movement of muscle and tendon tensions, should (can) be corrected. This happens using a neurophysiological stimulation of the sensorial cell on the soles of the feet. Long-standing irritation of these receptors can help to stabilise and re-harmonise the entire muscle structure of the body, including all the way up to the neck and jaw, when applied over a considerable period of time. Furthermore, should the gait be successfully realigned, those painful back problems could soon be a thing of the past.
Would you like to discover more about this subject?
– The uvex safety group offers “sensomotoric insoles” to be worn with safety footwear. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
In 2011, insurance companies recognised 6,304 cases of noise-induced hearing impairment as occupational illnesses, which puts it at the top of the list in this category.
This impairment occurs when sound waves have damaged the hair cells lining the inner ear. Once these have died, they cannot be regenerated; so there is no cure if an individual has noise-induced hearing impairment. The severity of the damage very much depends on the noise intensity and length of exposure.
Stress factors for the entire body
Noise not only hinders concentration and potentially causes hearing loss, but can also be a stress factor for the entire body. It can result in changes to biological risk factors such as blood lipids, blood sugar and coagulation, for example. Cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, certain types of heart disease as well as heart attacks, can be triggered through noise exposure.
Those who are affected by hearing loss are initially unable to perceive the higher frequencies, with the perception of medium and lower frequency sounds being impacted later. In order to ensure good hearing in older age, it is important efforts are already made for its protection when young.
Guidance on how this is to be implemented in the workplace is set out in the “Occupational safety directive on noise and vibration”. This states that employers must inform their staff about the dangers of noise exposure if the level exceeds 80 dB(A) and a maximum noise level of 135 dB(C). In these cases, employees must be offered suitable hearing protection. It is obligatory for staff to wear hearing protection if noise exceeds 85 dB(A), and 137 dB(C).
Sources of noise are not only found in manufacturing and workshops with large machinery, but noise is also a common problem in unexpected areas, such as offices.
While communication between staff is essential for some work processes, this can cause undue stress and reduce wellbeing. The greater the number of people in an office, the louder it will be, which is particularly true for large and open-plan offices. Common causes of noise include conversations between colleagues, office equipment such as printers and photocopiers, telephone conversations as well as street noise. Although office noise does not acutely damage hearing, it can be extremely tiring and stressful. As a result, concentration levels may fall, which can have a negative effect on performance as well as attention and responsiveness.
The situation can be improved through technical and organisational measures, for example by ensuring adequate space between work stations to reduce the overall noise in the office. For areas with noise in excess of 85 dB(A), organisational measures alone will not suffice. This is where the “Occupational safety directive on noise and vibration” comes into play and hearing protection must be worn.
A noise analysis must be carried out to identify sources of noise. However, other criteria such as noise duration, compatibility with other PPE products and wearer properties should also be taken in to account.
uvex has a choice of different hearing protection in its range, so it can offer each individual wearer the appropriate hearing protection. A distinction is made between earplugs, earmuffs and otoplastics.
Earplugs (disposable or reusable) are particularly suited to being worn for extended periods and in combination with other PPE. They are also suitable for use in working environments with high temperatures.
Earmuffs are generally worn with a headband, but other models are available that can be attached directly to an industrial safety helmet, should one be needed. Earmuffs are the right option for individuals who have sensitive ear canals, as an alternative to ear plugs.
Otoplastics are tailor-made earplugs which are individually moulded to the shape of the ear canal. Depending on the model, a universal or customised filter can be chosen to provide the optimum level of protection.
Good to know
Perception of noise differs from person to person. Whether a noise is “only” a little uncomfortable or causes lasting damage to hearing is very difficult to assess personally.
While the pain threshold is at around 120 dB(A), hearing can already be damaged at much lower levels of noise exposure.
How loud are your surroundings? Use the uvex Decibel app (only for iOS) to test your workplace.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions on the importance of hearing protection and how to prevent damage.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.