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January 23, 2015

Avoiding Slip and Fall Accidents

Avoiding Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents occur every day. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) indicates[1] that nearly 9 million people each year seek treatment in emergency departments around the country because of injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents. While many slip and fall accidents[2] result in little more than embarrassment and perhaps a mild bruise, they have the potential to cause serious injuries that may lead to long-term medical conditions. In severe cases, slip and fall victims may even require intensive medical care or develop disabilities that keep them from doing everyday tasks or living independently.

As a result, it is important for people to take every step possible to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents. This holds true for homeowners, business owners, property managers, government entities, and pedestrians alike. The information below is intended to help people learn more about slip and fall accidents and the steps that we can all take to prevent them. At the bottom of this page are links to various sources used to in the writing this article that lead to additional information regarding slip and fall accidents.

Common Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and falls can cause a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most common include the following:

Broken Bones – Broken bones, or bone fractures, occur when there is break in the continuity of the bone structure. There are many types of broken bones, and the required treatment can range from invasive surgery to simple rest. When a person falls, they can strike the ground with significant force, potentially causing a bone fracture. In some cases, broken bones can result in disfigurement of a body part or unsightly scarring.

Traumatic Brain Injuries – Traumatic brain injuries[3] (TBIs) occur when a bump or jolt to the head results in a disruption of normal brain function. The most common and least severe type of TBI is a concussion, which itself has the potential to cause serious complications. More severe TBIs can result in significant issues such as cognitive problems, issues with communication and speech, emotional problems, and impairment of a person’s motor skills.

Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, involve an injury to a person’s spinal cord. In many cases, trauma to the spinal column results in secondary injury or pressure to the spinal cord. As the spinal cord is responsible for transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and injury to it can result in significant complications. Spinal cord injuries can leave victims with paralysis, muscle weakness, lack of mobility, and issues with skin sensation.

Soft Tissue Injuries – Soft tissue injuries occur when there is damage to a person’s ligaments, muscles, or tendons. Common examples of soft tissue injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, stress injuries, and tendonitis. They have the potential to cause pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of function.

These and other injuries that people can sustain in slip and fall accidents can leave people with significant medical expenses. In addition, victims may be unable to return to work for an extended period of time, if at all.

Slip and Fall Accidents and Older Adults

Slip and Fall AccidentWhile anyone who is able to walk is at some risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident, older adults are particularly at risk. There are many factors that contribute to this increased risk. As people age, their eyesight may not be as good as it once was, their reflexes may slow, they may suffer from hearing loss, and other medical condition could affect their sense of balance. According to the National Floor Safety Institute[4], the incidence of falls increases with each decade of life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports[5] that one in three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, and that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among this age group. Some important statistics involving falls and older adults include:

  • Around 2.5 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries sustained after falling
  • Half of all adults over the age of 65 who are hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the injury
  • More than 3 out of 5 nursing home residents will fall every year
  • Falls account for 40 percent of all nursing home admissions

Because of the serious complications that can result, it is especially important for older adults to take steps to reduce their risk of falling. The National Institute on Aging[6] has more information regarding older adult fall safety here.[7]

Steps that Home and Business Owners can Take to Reduce the Risk of Slip and Fall Accidents

Fortunately, there are certain steps that people can take to reduce their risk of being involved in a slip and fall accident. These steps include the following:

  • Immediately clean up liquid spills
  • Stay away from and clearly mark freshly mopped floors
  • Make sure that all electrical cords are secured and moved away from high-traffic areas
  • Store items that are frequently used in easily reachable places
  • Wear shoes that have good support and slip-resistant soles
  • Arrange furniture in such a way as to provide ample room for walkways
  • Remove all tripping hazards from stairs or walkways
  • Provide adequate lighting
  • Make sure that exterior walkways are free from debris
  • Replace or fix torn carpet
  • Make sure that all stairways have handrails
  • Repair uneven or broken steps
  • Make sure that all rugs have non-slip backing or double sided tape affixing them to the floor
  • Install handrails in bathrooms, particularly for older adults

By taking these steps, people can reduce the risk that they, their loved ones, or their guests will be injured in a slip and fall accident due to a hazardous condition. In the event that you or someone else is involved in a slip and fall accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In many cases, early medical intervention can lead to a much better outcome, particularly for serious injuries.

[1] http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-at-home-falls.aspx
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slip_and_fall
[3] http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/
[4] http://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
[5] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Falls/adultfalls.html
[6] http://www.nia.nih.gov/
[7] http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/topics/falls

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