Shoes kill more than your feet

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AN OUTBREAK of killer shoes has prompted safety experts to consider attaching warning labels, such as: "These shoes could seriously damage your health", to precarious footwear.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is launching an investigation into shoe safety after research showed that platforms and high heels land about 9,000 Britons in hospital each year. In Japan, a recent footwear mishap proved to be fatal.

The BSI will consider labelling for shoes and a recommendation for a five-inch height limit. Checks may be extended to incorporate an additional stability test.

David Lazenby, general manager of standards at BSI, said: "There are many instances where high fashion does not take account of straightforward safety aspects. This epidemic of killer shoes has already claimed one life and injured thousands, with Baby Spice and Naomi Campbell falling victim.

"BSI will be working with manufacturers and health and consumer bodies to discuss the shoe safety guidelines in the interests of all parties."

The BSI plans to develop tests with Satra Technology Centre, which already carries out research for the footwear industry, including tests for slip resistance and abrasion.

The craze for platform shoes peaked in the 1970s when two-inch soles and five-inch heels were de rigueur. Men also wore them, as shown by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

The platform sole was popular as far back as the 1400s, when it was called the chopine - an overshoe slipped over a more dainty shoe to protect it from mud or dirt.

The Spice Girls made the platform sneaker fashionable, and Naomi Campbell famously fell over on the catwalk while wearing a pair of platforms.

In Asia platforms, some as high as 10 inches, are vital party gear. A Japanese woman recently suffered a fatal skull fracture after toppling from her five-inch platform shoes.

Platform shoes have even inspired academic study. Professor Teruko Ishii of Aoba Gakuen Junior College polled women students and found 23 per cent had fallen off platforms. Half had suffered fractures or other injuries for the sake of fashion.