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World at work: Evidence based risk management of nail dust in chiropodists and podiatrists
  1. J G Burrow1,2,
  2. N A McLarnon1
  1. 1Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, Division of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Fellmongers Path, Tower Bridge Road, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 MrJ G Burrow
 Senior Lecturer, Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner, School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, 70 Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 0BA, UK; J.G.Burrow{at}

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An overview of hazards and risks

Podiatrists work in general and specialised clinics, providing essential assessment, evaluation, and foot care for a wide range of patients. Many people have long standing local foot as well as systemic problems for which there is no cure, therefore the podiatrist’s role is to keep these people mobile and make a real difference to their lives. Most podiatrists have a percentage of “general practice” work in their caseload, but over time they decide to specialise in certain areas: diabetes, biomechanics, rheumatology, children’s feet (podopaediatrics), orthoses manufacture, or sports injuries. The role of the podiatrist is much wider than most people realise.

Podiatrists treat diabetic foot ulcers, using sharp debridement; reduce long thickened and distorted toenails in the elderly; and treat high risk foot conditions such as poor vascular supply which leads to poor healing, gangrene, and in some extreme cases, amputation. Their expertise is in reducing these conditions, minimising foot deformities, supplying advice, and referral to other members of the healthcare team to ensure optimum foot health and care in order not to put clients at risk of amputation or disability through deformities or pain.

However, as with any job or profession, hazards and risks are associated with these practices. There are a number of risk factors associated with podiatry:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive strain injury (RSI) (also known as work related upper limb disorders (WRULD). These occur as a result of the various working postures and workload: podiatrists may encounter clients in their own homes, within residential and care homes, or within the ward or hospital setting, where workstation conditions and the environment are far from ideal. RSI may occur due to the large caseloads together with the repetitive nature of some tasks which use similar hand grips for long periods without breaks. …

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  • Funding: the authors are indebted to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists for the initial funding to undertake the various studies which support this article

  • Competing interests: none