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Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls and Work Clutter

You’re at work. You slip, you trip, you fall. It’s more than just an “oops.” Serious injuries and even fatalities can result from these far too common and most often entirely preventable accidents. Workplace falls not only cause pain and suffering they also cause time lost on the job. And prevention of the situations that can cause falls is also key to making your place of business compliant with OSHA standards. Maintaining a safe environment is essential in any industry, but it is especially crucial in the healthcare industry, where so many depend upon staff safety.

What Is the Biggest Cause of Slips, Trips, and Falls in a Healthcare Facility?

So let’s start with the basics. How do falls occur, anyway? And what is the biggest cause of slips, trips, and falls in a healthcare facility? Statistics bear out that most of the falls that occur in the workplace happen on the same level, not going up or downstairs or from a height – which is, however, how the remaining 34% occur. In other words, most falls are slips or trips on a level surface and a significantly smaller percentage from ladders or stairs. Slips usually occur because there is not enough traction between footwear and the surface you’re walking on. Whether it’s due to spills, wet surfaces, loose flooring, worn rugs, or slipping mats, these are the most common reasons for this type of fall.

Now, tripping is different – tripping means you’ve lost your balance, and you fall for that reason, usually when you collide with another object. You’ll usually trip due to clutter, tangled cords, a wrinkle in a carpet or mat, uneven walking surface, or poor lighting that prevents you from seeing something as innocuous as a chair leg. Both slipping and tripping happen because there’s a chance of something unexpected in the place your feet and the walking surface meet. Yes, proper footwear is key to preventing this type of accident, and so is clean and orderly clutter-free workplace housekeeping. In addition, employees should not be moving too quickly or carrying objects that obstruct their view.

Identifying Risks in a Healthcare Facility When It Comes to Slips, Trips, and Falls

When determining what is the biggest cause of slips, trips, and falls in a healthcare facility, let’s tackle clutter and cleanliness first. Good housekeeping is, after all, one of the most important ways to prevent falls and tripping. You should wipe up any spills immediately and indicate any wet areas with signs or cones. And if cleaning involves wet mopping, make sure your clean-up procedures don’t cause a greater risk to common walking areas. Identifying a wet floor is very important. Any debris should be swept or mopped up quickly, and any obstacles that might block or narrow walking areas should be cleared. Clutter tends to build up under desks, storage areas, or closets. Don’t let things get out of hand. Out of sight may mean out of mind, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods as far as safety goes. Quite the contrary. Obscured or hidden clutter causes accidents.

Develop a system of filing and storing as you go – don’t let clutter build up. The more there is, the more potential hazards to you, your coworkers, and others regarding slips, trips, and falls. Keep your plug-in cords neat. Cord organizers to bundle cords are a great safety tool that can be utilized throughout the workplace to reduce tripping hazards. Remember, cables and cords should be secured and covered, and this is especially important if they cross a walkway.

Employers need to have a system in place that adequately manages health and safety, identifying risk areas, consulting with staff, and having an efficient system ready to deal with spills and clutter. Any sloping floors or level changes should be clearly marked as well. Naturally, staff must be encouraged to cooperate with safety procedures to reduce slips and falls. Carpets, mats, and rugs should be smooth and lying flat – if they don’t naturally hold this position, they should be secured to the flooring. Use only non-slip mats, and immediately replace curled, torn, or bent mats. It’s an excellent idea to employ water-absorbent mats in any entranceway, too, to prevent tracking in mud or water. Cabinets and drawers should be closed, not left open, and lighting should be sound – keep walkways and work areas adequately lit. If a bulb burns out, replace it. With these measures in place, you can look at other areas that will keep your workplace safe.

Flooring – the surface you walk on – should be in good repair. Replace worn surfaces, cracked or bent tiles as soon as possible to reduce the risk of tripping. If necessary, use abrasive strips to minimize sliding and slipping on overly smooth surfaces. And the feet that are on that flooring? Comfortable shoes with soles that grip the floor’s surface are always best. And they should fit well, too. Well-fitting footwear means less tired feet, less tired wearers, and wearers who are more easily able to navigate any potential workplace hazards. In your comfortable shoes, take your time and pay attention when you’re walking. You know the saying, act in haste, repent at leisure? It’s undoubtedly true with workplace walking. No rushing! Here’s another catchphrase. Haste makes waste – of your safety. And remember, don’t carry or push objects that obstruct or limit your vision. Not seeing a potential workplace hazard can be the biggest hazard of all. You should be aware of where you’re going and pay careful attention to your walking surface at all times.

Slips, trips, and falls frequently cause personal injury – from sprains and torn ligaments to head injuries, broken bones, cuts, and scrapes. Yet most accidents from slipping, tripping, or falling are entirely preventable by following standard precautions and safety measures. Regular and frequent inspections will help prevent and identify any hazards in the workplace. And if you do fall – even if you’re not injured, you should report the incident. Your minor mishap could call attention to a workplace safety problem and prevent someone from incurring a more serious injury. Cover, clean, and report spills or hazards. If there are any common areas, such as sink areas, or bathing areas, where the floor is slippery, install non-slip, water-absorbent mats to soak up the water. And check any areas with drains or water pipes to ensure they are functioning correctly. Back-ups can lead to more slippery hazards.

Avoiding Injury During Slips, Trips, and Falls in a Healthcare Facility

If you do fall, you’ll want to protect your head, neck, and spine. Use your arms to break your fall, and if you fall backward, tuck your chin so that you will be less likely to hit your head on the ground at full impact. Self-protection techniques should be taught in the workplace for all staff members. Employees should be made aware of all causes of slips, trips, and falls in a healthcare facility. This should also include clear procedures to take in the event that a coworker or visitor falls at the location. Immediate actions should be taken to protect the fallen individual from further injury by ensuring they do not move following the incident. With a comprehensive plan of action when dealing with slips, trips, and falls at a healthcare facility, your staff will be able to handle most situations that may arise.

And what about slips or falls above ground level? Training is key here, too, to instruct employees on the proper placement of ladders on flat, even surfaces, and careful climbing. What is careful climbing? It means maintaining three points of contact when going up or down a ladder – two hands and a foot, or two feet and one hand – at all times. Making sure that step ladders are fully opened is another safety must.

Staying safe at work not only prevents injury and illness, it means a decrease in employee stress as well as an improvement in job satisfaction and turnover. Keeping the workplace safe is vitally important for all aspects of the healthcare professions, which are often the places of employment most susceptible to workplace injury. In fact, over 653,000 nurses and other healthcare staffers are injured yearly, resulting in pain, suffering, and lost workdays. That’s quite a number, especially considering that manufacturing facilities indicate a much lower injury figure of around 152,000. Back injuries alone account for approximately $7 billion – yes, billion – in costs to the healthcare industry. OSHA is required by law to ensure safe working conditions, and a lack of compliance by healthcare employers will result in substantial fines.

How MedTrainer Can Help With Safety Training in Regards to Slips, Trips, and Falls in a Healthcare Facility

At MedTrainer, we can offer comprehensive safety training to reduce the chances of slips, falls, and trips in a healthcare facility. This means keeping healthcare staff safe, healthy, and aware of hazards while adhering to OSHA workplace requirements. Staff pain and suffering aside, health care workers are skilled, necessary employees, and without them, patients suffer. Healthcare worker injuries can cause harm to others if inadequate health care for medical, dental, veterinary, or pharmaceutical facilities occurs due to sidelined employees. From an employers’ standpoint, it’s vitally important to review the hot spots in your place of business for slip, trip, or fall accidents and analyze what caused the incidents. By collecting data on past incidents, you can minimize the potential for future issues to occur.

Focusing on preventing these incidents means a focus on improved healthcare provided as well as healthy employees and a clean bill of health with OSHA compliance. You should hold regular walk-throughs to evaluate safety and point out and eliminate any potential hazards. Document any areas that need improvement, assign responsibility for improvement and ensure a reasonable completion date is met. In short, it’s always vital to keep the healthcare workplace hazard-free and safe. The health and safety of the workers who provide care are at risk, as well as facility visitors and other individuals.

With rising demands for health care services of all kinds, losing healthcare workers to preventable injury is simply unacceptable on all counts. Lost workdays, costly worker’s compensation accident claims, reduced productivity – this simply won’t work for the healthcare industry. Implementing OSHA standards will keep your workplace, workers, and patients well. It’s as simple – and as necessary – as that.

If your administrators are asking, “what the cause of slip, trip, and fall incidents is at your healthcare facility?” look to MedTrainer for comprehensive software solutions that can assist in your endeavor. With the ability to accurately track compliance and incident reports, monitor medical equipment lifecycle management tasks, and maintain timely and compliant training initiatives, MedTrainer is the tool you need to minimize the risk of slip, trip, and falls to your staff and visitors. Contact us now to learn more about our cloud-based data-driven solutions and discover the difference MedTrainer can make for your healthcare facility.