How to Prevent Slips and Falls

Saturday, January 19, 2013

63% of Canadian seniors, about 50% of children and 35% of working-age adults are injured in fall-related accidents every year. Behind vehicle accidents, it is the second leading cause of both serious and non-serious injuries in Canada every year. In the workplace, slips, trips and falls are responsible for injuries that place them in the top five causes of workers' compensation claims. 60% of all falls result from slips and trips, while falls from heights constitute the other 40%.

Here are some of the causes of slips and falls with their corresponding solutions:

  • Slips are likely when there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface. For example, when the floor is wet, when some oily substance has been spilled or when a rug is unanchored. Those responsible for the upkeep of a home or office space can ensure that spills are cleaned immediately, or at least to put up signs to warn of slippery floors. The rest of us must always report slips and falls to prevent future ones, and we can also mark areas to warn others. In our own kitchens, bathrooms and entrance ways, we can use anti-skid adhesive rugs. If you absolutely have to walk on wet or oily floors, you should take small steps and pay attention to your feet and body. Walking with your feet pointed outward and keeping your center of balance under you help.
  • Choose appropriate footwear. It should fit properly, shoelaces should always be tied, rubber soles are usually useful when walking on slippery surfaces and low heels are less risky.
  • To prevent falling on a staircase, hold onto the handrail, be extra careful when wearing high heels or sandals and make sure you can see the next step before you take it.
  • To prevent falls while reaching to take objects off high shelves, use a sturdy step instead of a chair, since a chair might either break or slip on the floor. Otherwise, re-organize your kitchen so you can reach everything.
  • If your job involves climbing, use a sturdy ladder instead of some makeshift substitute. Be careful when reaching above your head, since you might lose your balance and fall.
  • Try to de-clutter your home and office. Pick unnecessary objects off the floor, remove cables that might trip you and make sure that rugs do not curl up at the ends.
  • To prevent tripping over objects or on uneven walking surfaces, make sure that you can see where you’re stepping. If the lighting is poor, report it or improve it if you can. Do not wear sunglasses indoors and walk slower if visibility is poor.

Many slips, trips and falls can be avoided and can thereby save Canadian health and insurance services a lot of money. Moreover, it can save us a lot of unnecessary pain and prevent the enormous disruptions that injuries can cause in our lives.