November is Fall Prevention Month, a campaign which promotes fall awareness and also encourages organizations and individuals to deploy fall prevention efforts in both their personal and occupational lives.
Falls in Canada – The Numbers
In Canada, slips, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries, with over 42,000 workers injured each year due to a fall. This represents about 18% of all lost-time claims through worker’s compensation boards across the country (Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 2016). A report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that almost 654,000 injury-related emergency department visits were related to an accidental fall in 2016-17. This equates to approximately 1,800 fall injuries per day and contributes to about one-third of the 2 million emergency room visits recorded in Canada each year.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips happen when there is a loss of footing due to incomplete contact between the foot and the ground or from loss of traction between the foot and the walking surface. Trips happen when walking is interrupted by an obstruction or an accidental error in stride. Falls happen when a loss of balance, such as from a slip or trip, results in the body impacting the ground or floor. There are two major types of fall accidents – falls to same level and falls from height. Statistics indicate that the majority of falls happen on the same level, as a result of a slip or trip. The remaining 30% are falls from a height.
What Can You Do?
There are several things you can do, both in the workplace and at home, to prevent slips, trips and falls:
- Clean up all spills or wet areas immediately. Where this is not possible, marking or limiting access to areas that may present a slip hazard is recommended.
- Flooring surfaces that have the tendency to be slippery (i.e. highly polished concrete) should have mats or abrasive walking areas installed. In addition, any uneven floor areas should be clearly delineated or marked.
- Ensuring outdoor areas that have foot traffic are free of ice and snow by shovelling and sanding/salting.
- Keep walkways free of clutter, such as dirt and debris or excessive amounts of stored or piled materials. Walkways, including stairwells, should be well lit.
- Tripping hazards, such as cables crossing walkways or edges of carpets or other flooring materials that do not lay flat should be taped or tacked down.
- Ensure you are wearing proper footwear for the walking surface (i.e. anti-slip footwear or ice traction aids).
When walking, take your time and pay attention to where you are going. Adjust your stride to ensure it is suitable for your walking surface. Make sure to always use the handrail ascending and descending stairways.
Ensure that you are not carrying or transporting materials that prevent you from seeing tripping or slip obstacles.
By being aware of our surroundings and taking a few moments to think about the safest way to proceed, we are one step closer to avoiding a slip or trip.
Get in touch with ECOH for more information on how we can help you develop your workplace Fall Awareness and Prevention Programs.
Happy Fall Prevention Month!