We all know the horrifying feeling of an uncontrolled fall as we have all slipped and fallen at one point or another. Falls occur more frequently than most people think – Each year more than 8 million Americans seek emergency room treatment for injuries caused by falls. That equates to approximately 22,000 emergency room visits daily strictly due to fall-related incidents.
Commercial workplaces are not the only environments in which fall accidents occur. In fact, at-home slips and falls account for many cases of residential injury, personal injury, and even fatalities each year. Preventing slips, trips, and falls (STF) is a job that all property managers are responsible for; however, many don’t realize how frequent these incidents occur and the exposures that promote them.
This article breaks down the severity of STF accidents using statistics gathered by reputable sources (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Bureau of Labor Statistics Latest Numbers, National Floor Safety Institute, National Safety Council, etc.). The article also includes different tips and strategies targeted to prevent/reduce STF related accidents in communities.
Essential facts and statistics relating to slips, trips, and falls:
- In the United States, slips and falls are the number one cause of accidental injury
- Men and women experience accidental falls at nearly identical rates
- Elderly are the most susceptible/vulnerable
- In total, falls cost Americans an estimated $14 million each year
There is often the misconception that falls occur primarily on stairways. However, the majority of residential falls occur on level ground compared to elevated surfaces.
Causes of slips, trips, and falls – things to look out for:
- Obstructed pathways with tools, equipment, supplies, trash, cables, and cords
- Uneven walking surfaces (loose flooring, broken tile, worn mats/rugs)
- Cracked and deteriorating sidewalks, parking areas, or roadways
- Slippery surfaces caused by snow/ice, liquid spills and dry products
- Inadequate lighting, or moving from lit areas to dark areas or vice versa
- Carrying objects that are too large (constricting one’s views)
- Lack of, or poorly secured, handrails on stairways and throughout corridors
- Unexpectedly losing balance (doorway w/drop-off)
Prevention Tips to Reduce Slips, Trips and Falls in Communities
Property owners must exercise reasonable care to reduce/eliminate any exposures that could potentially lead to the injury of a resident or visitor on the property. This information means regularly inspecting the property for deficiencies and correcting them as soon as possible. If the hazard cannot be corrected or repaired immediately then an attempt to guard the hazard should occur (example: the closing of a playground that is in poor condition).
Good housekeeping practices are the key!
Maintain all interior and exterior walking surfaces to ensure they remain in decent condition and eliminate the presence of slip, trip, and fall:
- When snow and ice are present, remove and treat these elements as soon as possible
- When necessary, suspend or restrict the use of an area
- Keep all work areas, public areas, and passageways clean and orderly. Remove obstructions and excess storage, and remind residents to refrain from storing items in areas that could cause a slip, trip or fall
- Conduct regular inspections to identify slip, trip, and fall hazards. Always document inspections and deficiencies and get them addressed as soon as possible
As the number of STF accidents continues to rise we should all be doing our part to ensure to remove the exposures that are causing these types of accidents from the properties in which we own, manage, and maintain to reduce or eliminate the associated costs.
Find out more about risk management and how to protect your organization by reading more HAI Group blog posts here under our Protection section.