According to the National Safety Council, falls and the subsequent injuries are the second-leading cause of unintentional death in homes and communities, resulting in more than 25,000 fatalities in 2009, read the report here. Risks from falling increase with age and extra concessions should be made for elderly occupants of homes in order to prevent injury and death. Take the time to remove slip, trip and fall hazards to keep your family safe.
Prevention Of Slips, Trips, Falls & Common Causes
Over 1 million American workers are injured on the job every year and falls are the second leading cause of death in homes. It’s important for people of all ages to be mindful of hazards and to bring potential sites of accident to the attention of their employer.
Common causes of slips are:
- wet or oily surfaces
- occasional spills
- weather hazards (see our article on melting ice here)
- loose rugs or mats, commonly in doorways
- uneven flooring or loose carpeting
You can counter some of these problems by looking for surfaces in bad condition (i.e. holes, broken tiles) and if in your home, repair them or if at work, notify your supervisor of the problem. If you are in a public place and are forced to walk on wet flooring you can avoid slips by being mindful of your surroundings and adjusting pace, finding alternative routes if possible, walking with the feet pointed slightly outward, and making wide turns at corners.
Prevent slips and injury at home by cleaning all spills immediately and repairing leaks. Use cleaning methods that do not spread the problem. Slip-resistant floor coatings should be used in areas that are likely to get wet or subject to frequent spills, such as around sinks, refrigerators, and in bathrooms. Wearing gripped footwear and using extra caution when traveling both outdoors and indoors during wet weather is a good way to avoid slipping at home or at work.
Tripping is often seen as a minor thing but trips can result in injuries like broken hips, sprained ankles, broken wrists, and foot damage.
Common causes of tripping are:
- blocked view
- poor lighting
- wrinkled carpeting
- uncovered cables or cords
- bottom drawers or cabinets left open
- uneven walking surfaces (stairways or drop offs)
You can reduce risk of trips in your home by keeping walking areas clear from clutter, always using installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks, using a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light, ensuring that things you are carrying or pushing do not prevent you from seeing any obstruction. A common trip hazard is having cords that run through walkways. If this is a necessity, make sure to cover and secure the cables. Ensure floor mats and rugs are securely fixed and do not have curling edges as this is a very common trip hazard, especially in stores and shopping centers.
Falls are a particular problem because their rate of injury can be higher than trips or slips and their damage can be permanent. When working on a ladder or elevated projects at home, be sure to have someone holding the ladder and taking every precaution to avoid falling. Safety is important and being aware of surroundings is really paramount, especially if the platform or elevated space is unmarked or guardrails aren’t provided. If in a work zone like a loading dock or a warehouse, do not try to operate equipment your aren’t trained to use and have constant vigilance and awareness for any drop offs you may encounter. At home, make sure you have handrails for all stairways. Read more tips for preventing falls here.