Preventing slips, trips, and falls in healthcare settings is a critical safety concern for patients and staff. In addition to causing serious injury, these incidents can lead to costly lawsuits, lost productivity, and damage to an organization’s reputation. One of the most effective ways to prevent these types of incidents is through compliance with regulations and guidelines established by governing bodies.
Know the Guidelines and Regulations
There are several compliance methods already in place that healthcare facilities can follow to prevent slips, trips, and falls.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for preventing slips, trips, and falls in healthcare facilities, including requirements for proper floor maintenance, footwear, and safety equipment.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also has regulations that require healthcare facilities to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff.
Workplace Injuries & Incidents by the Numbers
Slips, trips, and falls are significant causes of injuries in any workplace. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020 workers experienced over ~1,176,340 nonfatal work injuries that resulted in missed work time. Of these, ~196,140 (18%) were related to slips, trips, and falls; roughly 127 per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers were hospitalized.
Regarding specific types of injuries, falls on the same level (i.e., slips and trips) accounted for 51% of all slips, trips, and falls in healthcare and social assistance settings in 2020. Falls to a lower level (such as falls from ladders, scaffolds, or elevated platforms) accounted for 37%, while the remaining 12% were due to other factors, such as being struck by an object or caught in equipment.
The data highlights the importance of preventing slips, trips, and falls in healthcare settings to ensure healthcare workers’ and patients’ safety and well-being. By implementing safety measures and incident reporting protocols, healthcare facilities can reduce the risk of injuries and create a safer environment.
Steps to Improving Workplace Safety
To achieve compliance with these regulations, healthcare facilities can implement several measures. Here are some suggestions:
- Conduct a hazard assessment: Identify and assess potential hazards in the facility, such as uneven flooring, wet or slippery surfaces, and cluttered areas.
- Implement housekeeping procedures: Establish policies and procedures for cleaning and maintaining floors, including routine cleaning schedules and protocols for spills or wet areas.
- Install slip-resistant flooring: Consider installing slip-resistant flooring in high-risk areas such as entrances, bathrooms, and kitchens.
- Provide proper footwear: Encourage or require staff to wear appropriate footwear with slip-resistant soles.
- Ensure proper lighting: Make sure all areas of the facility are well-lit to help staff and patients see potential hazards.
- Conduct regular safety inspections: Conduct regular safety inspections of the facility to identify and address potential hazards.
- Establish policies for patient safety: Educate patients and their families about potential hazards and provide guidelines for safe movement within the facility.
- Train staff: Provide staff training on safe practices and the importance of incident reporting.
- Monitor compliance: Monitor compliance with safety policies and procedures and ensure that staff members follow established protocols.
Utilize Incident Reporting to Reduce Accidents & Injuries
Incident reporting is crucial to preventing slips, trips, and falls in healthcare settings. When an incident occurs, it’s essential to report it promptly so that leadership can take action to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Incident reporting can include actual and near-miss incidents in which an incident almost occurred but was avoided.
The information collected through incident reporting helps identify patterns and trends in incidents and to make informed decisions about where to focus prevention efforts. For example, suppose multiple incidents occur in the same location, such as a particular hallway or patient room. In that case, the facility can investigate the cause and take corrective action, such as repairing flooring, improving lighting, or increasing housekeeping frequency.
In addition, incident reporting can help healthcare facilities identify areas where staff members may need additional training or support. For instance, if there are a considerable number of incidents involving patients falling while transferring from a bed to a chair, the facility may provide additional training for staff members on safe patient handling and transferring techniques.
Using Data to Improve Workplace Safety
The data collected through incident reporting can be a tool to monitor compliance with safety policies and procedures and to measure the effectiveness of prevention efforts over time. By tracking the number and type of incidents and comparing them to previous periods, facilities can identify trends and measure progress in reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
Incident reporting is valuable for preventing slips, trips, and falls in healthcare settings. It enables healthcare facilities to identify potential hazards, take corrective action, provide additional training, and monitor compliance with safety policies and procedures. Using incident reporting to inform prevention efforts, healthcare facilities can create a safer environment for patients and staff, improve health outcomes, and reduce the risk of costly lawsuits and other adverse outcomes.
By taking the steps outlined in this article, healthcare facilities can reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls and improve safety for all.