Falls on the job can cause a variety of injuries and can spike your Workers Compensation costs. However, the scope of the problem might surprise you:
- Falls kill some 21,000 Americans a year. That’s more than from electrocution, drowning, and firearms incidents combined.
- Falls carry an astronomical annual price tag of $60 billion to $80 billion, including litigation, insurance and comp claims, medical costs, and other indirect expenses.
- Falls are the nation’s leading cause of emergency room visits (more than 2 million a year)
- Falls cause one death and 183 emergency room visits every hour.
There’s nothing new about the prevalence of workplace falls. As far back as 1937, National Safety Council records reveal that falls caused more lost time than any other class of compensable occupational accidents.
Safety experts recommend a variety of steps for employers to reduce this exposure. For example, businesses work hard to make the guest lobbies of their buildings pleasant and welcoming. Unfortunately, they rarely consider the potential for falls. It’s essential to have a proper mat just inside the outside doors. When it’s raining people shake their umbrellas and water comes off onto the smooth terrazzo or other type of floor, creating a hazard. To reduce the risk, provide signage, add extra mats during inclement weather, and have an individual with a mop keep entryways dry on wet days.
Although commercial business codes forbid single-step risers or one-level changes, they’re responsible for a large number of falls. To minimize this hazard, employers should provide a contrasting paint, or install a handrail or step light. Another exposure involves “curve ramps” (ADA-compliant ramps in businesses and public spaces), which are often too steep or sloped on both sides, causing people walking on them to twist their ankles and fall. The solution: restructure the ramps.
It’s all too easy to concentrate on the danger of falls in industrial spaces, while ignoring potential hazards in administrative areas. Office workers often trip over wires, cords, and other items. To minimize these dangers, it’s essential to schedule thorough, safety inspections at regular intervals.
Don’t limit your slip, trip, and fall program to the work site – extend it to workers’ homes. Cultivating the same safety mentality at home as you’re trying to encourage in the workplace benefits everybody. Huge numbers of costly accidents occur at home where individuals feel comfortable, think they know the dangers, and consider themselves immune from accidents. Unfortunately, spending a lot of time in a place doesn’t reduce these risks.
If you’d like more information on keeping your workers safe from slips, trips, and falls, feel free to get in touch with the risk management professionals in our agency.