Ten Tips to Prevent Falls
National Safety Month is in full swing, bringing awareness of the leading safety and health risks to help decrease the number of unintentional injuries and deaths. The National Safety Council established June as National Safety Month back in 1996 and since then thousands of organizations and people have jumped on board across the country to work together and ensure safer homes, work zones, roads and community spaces. Hazardous work zones, insufficient planning, fall hazards, prescription and illegal drugs and distracted driving continue to affect families, careers and the communities within the United States. According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts, the lifetime odds for the top three accidental causes of death are motor vehicle crashes (1 in 102), opioid and painkiller use (1 in 109) and falls (1 in 119). NSC president and CEO Debbie Hersman explains to Risk Management Monitor that, “Preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death for the first time in United States history.” That is why this year the theme for the month of June is No 1 Gets Hurt, to demonstrate that knowing the odds is the first step in beating them. Each week in the month of June a different safety topic will be highlighted and the National Safety Council has graciously provided ample resources to help reduce these leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. The topics for this month of June are:
- Week 1: Emergency Preparedness
- Week 2: Wellness
- Week 3: Falls
- Week 4: Driving
Joining the Journey to Safety Excellence with the National Safety Council, the team at Jessup has worked together to create a list of ten easy to implement ways to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the home and office areas. And while we may not consider slipping on the stairs at work or tripping in your bedroom a serious risk, the data doesn’t lie and it can and does lead to extreme injury and death. Falls are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths for all ages and the number one cause of death for those 65 and older, according to the National Safety Council. The Center for Disease Control reported falls accounting for 33,381 fatalities in the United States in 2015. And in 2016, falls, slips and trips were the second cause of injury in the workplace according to U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA has recently cited two areas in the Fall Protection category on their preliminary list of Top 10 Violations for Fiscal Year 2017. These two areas were Fall Protection – Construction, coming in #1 on the list with 6,072 violations, while new to the list this year was Fall Protection- Training Requirements with 1,523 violations. Our hope is that knowing and understanding this data paired the National Safety Council’s resources and our list of tips on fall prevention will help in raising awareness to the issue. If even one of these tips can be implemented by you, it could possibly help protect your loved ones or employees from a future fall.
Ten Tips to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls:
- Put your phone down. One study, published in the Journal of Safety Research, found that over a 10-year period, distracted walking was responsible for more than 10,000 serious injuries. Avoid looking at or using your phone while you are moving. This includes driving, walking, or exercising. Consider putting your phone in your glove box on silent if you are tempted to look at it while on the road- that includes stoplights! And if you need to use your phone, find a safe area to stop moving and remain in place until you are finished.
- Remove clutter. This is especially true of electrical cords, boxes, clothing/shoes, and furniture such as filing cabinets, coffee tables, and kitchen chairs. Garages, attics, and storage closets can be some of the worst offenders. Be certain that all materials are safely stored in their proper location to prevent buildup of clutter in walkways at both home and office.
- Install proper lighting. Consider adding nightlights in areas that are frequently used at night such as bathrooms or hall walls to prevent tripping and falling. If you have rooms you are walking into will full hands often, such as messy office closets, consider installing automatic lighting to prevent a fall. Also, keep a flashlight by your bed to take with you for any quick trips for a midnight snack or letting the dogs out late night.
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure shoes fit properly and won’t come off when running, which is especially true of with small children. If you are in the workplace, be sure to wear shoes made for your work environment and type of work. Wearing rubber-soled shoes will also help ensure you don’t slip and fall.
- Utilize non-slip products. Non-slip products can be as inconspicuous as you want them to be now and days and put in just about any area. Non-slip stair treads are easy to install both indoor and outdoor, providing great slip and fall prevention. Non-slip adhesives or non-skid mats are excellent for bath and shower areas and be sure rugs have skid-proof backs or are tacked to the floor. Lastly, consider having kitty litter or de-icer right by the exit doors during the icy winter months and applying it often.
- Clean up spills. Water on the ground is a slip and fall waiting to happen. Ensuring floors around water stations, kitchen sinks and stoves (grease is a huge offender), and in the bathroom are dry is important to preventing falls. Pool areas should have signage posted reminding people of the wet grounds. If water is inevitable in an area, ensure non-slip adhesives or mats are installed and maintained.
- Keep a clear line of sight. This is especially true in the workplace or in community spaces where many people are bustling around. Turning corners such as a the blind corner of cubicle walls can create nasty collisions if people aren’t able to see each other. The National Safety Council suggests installing convex mirrors at intersections to help reduce collisions. If workers can see who is coming around the corner, collisions are less likely to occur.
- Use proper step ladders. Standing on chairs, particularly chairs with wheels, is a tremendous fall hazard. It should go without saying, but just don’t do it! Keep a stool or step ladder handy at home and in the office and only use it on level, firm grounds.
- Exercise. Doing exercise greatly helps to increase balance and decrease your risk for a slip or fall. Consider taking up yoga, lifting weights to encourage muscle strength, or simply holding the back of a counter, standing on one leg at a time for a minute and closing your eyes (if you feel comfortable) to further help improve balance
- Use assisted devices. . If your balance continues to be an issue talk to your doctor is using assisted devices may help. A cane or walker can greatly improve the risk of slipping or falling. Other assistive devices can help, too. The Mayo Clinic recommends handrails for both sides of stairs, non-slip treads for bare-wood steps, a raised toilet seat or one with armrests, grab bars for the shower or tub, and a sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down
Fall prevention and safety is all about the people and begins with you. Small actions such as avoiding using your phone when walking, using a nightlight, or cleaning up a box in the hallway can make a big difference in preventing someone from slipping and getting hurt. Choose at least one of the tips mentioned above that you can implement in both home and work to improve safety this month and beyond for yourself and those around you. The National Safety Council has created great resources to use for each of the designated weeks to help raise awareness of important safety topics and prevent needless harm to your co-workers, family and friends. A few of the suggestions they offer to keep everyone thinking about safety are:
- Distribute the downloadable National Safety Month materials
- Create bulletin boards, newsletters or blog posts
- Encourage others to take the SafeAtWork pledge at nsc.org/workpledge
- Share posts on your social media channels using #No1GetsHurt
- Provide safety training at your workplace
- Host a safety fair, lunch ‘n learn, trivia contest or celebratory luncheon
Jessup Manufacturing takes a strong interest in improving the well-being of our employees, their families, and the community. Join us in the journey to Safety Excellence along with the National Safety Council in ensuring No 1 Gets Hurt. To learn more about the Journey to Safety Excellence and how to participate, visit NSC’s website.