Slip and fall injuries can occur in a split second, but the repercussions can stretch on for months and even years. Injuries can range from a shattered bone to a strained tendon to a traumatic brain injury.
Slip and fall injuries might seem much less serious than injuries sustained in a bike wreck or traffic accident, but they’re a far bigger deal than most people think. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, slip and fall injuries are responsible for nearly 15% of accidental deaths. Moreover, they are the second most common cause of accidental death (just behind automobile accidents).
Some slip and fall accidents are almost impossible to avoid, but others can be prevented if you stay vigilant. It’s very common in the wake of one of these accidents to hear people say, “If only I would have…”
To help you avoid injuries and attendant regrets, we’ve compiled a list of some common slip and fall risks and ways to approach them with care so that you don’t end up injured.
Improper shoes. One of the biggest risks for slips and falls is improper footwear. This could include shoes like flip flops that might catch on surfaces, high heels that could cause you to trip or lose your balance, or shoes with slick soles.
● Precautions. Opt for shoes with good traction for navigating slick or uneven surfaces. Inspect your soles regularly to make sure the treads are still deep enough to do their job. Understand that your risks will increase if you are wearing high heels or overly loose or heavy shoes. If you’re walking a few blocks to a board meeting or night on the town, consider wearing sturdy athletic shoes and changing into your dress shoes once you’ve arrived.
And remember that familiar ground isn’t always safe ground. Plenty of falls happen around the house so opt for non-slip house shoes rather than bare feet or slippery socks.
Precipitation. Rain and ice are obvious risks for slip and fall injuries. If you travel in cold weather, you may have to navigate icy walkways. If you don’t have much experience with ice or if you’re careless, you could end up injured.
● Precautions. If you must walk in the rain, carry an umbrella so that you can see where you’re walking. A lot of rain-related injuries occur because you can’t see where you’re going. An umbrella will keep the rain from obstructing your vision. Make sure to wear shoes with traction so you don’t lose your balance on slick surfaces and walk with your feet angled slightly outward.
For icy walkways or stairs, wear non-slip shoes or boots. Leaning forward can help you maintain your balance. So can keeping your feet as flat as possible and walking with a shuffling motion. Keep your hands out of your pockets and free of heavy loads. This will help you maintain your balance and be ready to catch yourself if you fall. Be especially careful when you’re exiting a vehicle, making sure to hold onto the car until you have your balance.
Dangerous walkways. The National Floor Safety Institute attributes over half of all slip and fall injuries to hazardous walking surfaces. These may include uneven sidewalks, parking lot potholes, wet floors, lifted carpet edges, debris left on the floor, and poorly maintained stairways.
● Precautions. If you see any of these trip and fall risks around your home, fix them immediately. If you encounter them at work, report them immediately. Beyond that, follow the age old advice to watch where you’re going! Remember that you can’t do that if you’re staring at your cell phone when you’re walking. Pay attention to the ground in front of you. This could keep you from sliding on a wet spill, tripping over a tool left in a hall, or stumbling on a raised sidewalk.
Age. Elderly people are the most susceptible to slips and falls. This is because age can often wear away at our sense of balance, visual acuity, agility, and reflex time.
● Precautions. We can’t change our age, but we can lower our risk for slips and falls as we get older. Make sure to get your vision checked regularly so that you have the proper prescription for glasses or contacts. Stay active. This can help you maintain balance and agility. It can also keep your bones strong so that if you do slip and fall, you’ll be less likely to break or fracture them. And if there’s any doubt about your balance, play it safe by using a walking assist (such as a cane, walking stick, or walker).
Stairs and ladders. Whether stairs are uneven, slick, or overly steep, they can set you up for dangerous slips and falls, especially if they have unstable handrails–or no handrails at all. Ladders are another major safety risk. In fact, according to the CDC, 43% of fatal falls involve ladders.
● Precautions. Where stairs are concerned, avoid going up or down holding heavy loads if possible. And if there’s a handrail, always use it. Don’t take steps too quickly and avoid skipping steps.
As for ladders, set them up exactly as recommended by the manufacturer, and make sure that they are on even, dry ground. Always keep three points of contact with the ladder (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand). Don’t go barefoot on ladders or wear slick soles. Opt for shoes with traction, and face the ladder as you are climbing it.
When Slips and Falls Aren’t your Fault
By taking the right precautions, you can mitigate slip and fall risks, but unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, other people can put you in harm’s way.
Maybe you’re dealing with an aging parent who fell in a nursing home because of a neglectful caregiver. Or perhaps you slipped at the grocery store because of spilled liquids or tripped over uneven flooring in an office building.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident due to the negligence of others, make sure to consult an experienced injury lawyer in Utah. You shouldn’t have to cover the mounting costs from medical bills and missed work on your own. We can help you get the benefits that you deserve in the wake of your slip and fall injuries.