Regina Leader-Post

Crocs said hazardous, banned from hospitals

- By MARIANNE WHITE CanWest News Service

QUEBEC — Crocs, the comfortabl­e, colourful shoes rule in hospitals, but some health-care facilities across the country are now saying see you later alligator to the favourite footwear.

An increasing number of hospitals are moving towards banning them for fear they could be a health and safety hazard.

When you walk into a hospital, you can’t help but notice the bright and funny-looking clogs that many workers sport. 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,” said Real Gagne, who works for the Quebec emergency room nurse’s associatio­n. “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, the Hospital for Sick Children and the Hamilton Health Services. The Ontario Hospital Associatio­n sent a bulletin to some 100 hospitals citing safety concerns for health-care employees wearing Crocs.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in Manitoba is also reviewing if 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 isolators, enabling enough static electricit­y to be generated 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 for medical staff across the country. But Renzo Bertolini with the Canadian Centre for Occupation­al Health and Safety says they get a lot of requests for guidance.

“We have a lot of calls from healthcare 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, a spokesman for 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 coordinato­r 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.

— With files from Global News Quebec

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