Among healthcare professionals like nurses, residents, and doctors, slips and falls are one of the top causes of workplace injury. It's not only the medical staff who may become severely injured due to a slip and fall injury in a hospital or other medical facility, however.
Patients, visiting friends and family, non-medical support staff like janitors or administrative assistants... anyone who steps foot in a medical facility could be at risk of being injured due to a wet, uneven, or dangerous surface.
We have a few pieces of helpful advice to lower your risk, whether you work in a medical facility or you're a patient or visitor.
How Likely Are You to Slip, Trip, or Fall at Work?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of lost-workday injuries (injuries severe enough that the injured person had to miss at least one day of work) due to slips, trips, or falls on the same level was 38.2 per 10,000 employees, 90% greater than the average rate for every other private industry combined.
The risk of becoming injured after slipping and falling isn't just in medical facilities. The risk factors that lead to slip, trip, or fall injuries (STF injuries) in the workplace are common in nearly every business or organization, and one of the leading reasons for Workers' Compensation claims nationwide.
What Are the Risk Factors That Lead to Slip and Fall Injuries at Work?
There are two categories of risk factors that affect potential slip, trip, or fall injuries in medical facilities. The first is "environmental" risk factors, such as:
- Any lubricant or substance on a walking surface that could reduce slip-resistance. This includes water, cleaning products, saline solutions, chemical products, bodily fluids, and more
- Ice, snow, rainwater, or any precipitation that comes with inclement weather
- Temporarily wet materials like wet paint or recently-applied floor sealant
- Second fall hazards, such as a staircase or elevation change from one level to another
- Objects in the area that the individual may fall against and cause further injury
- Cords or tubes attached to medical equipment
"Physical" risk factors for slip and fall injuries in the workplace, on the other hand, primarily involve physical characteristics that affect an individual's susceptibility to falls:
- Health issues that may affect balance or sensory processing
- Physical conditioning
- Speed an individual is moving when an environmental risk factor is encountered
- Whether or not the individual is carrying an object or objects that block their view or ability to control for foot placement
- Whether nor the individual is familiar with the area they are moving through
While some of these risk factors can be changed or mitigated in order to prevent STF injuries, not all of them can. This is why taking personal steps to prevent slip, trip, and fall injuries is key.
How Can You Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries in Medical Facilities?
Maintain safe standards at your workplace. Provide highly-visible, brightly-colored warning signs in places where the surface has become wet or slippery and ensure high housekeeping and sanitation standards are being met. If you do not have a highly-organized, routine program in place at your workplace, suggest implementing one and follow up on it.
Reduce Wet or Slippery Surfaces Outdoors. Even if a hospital or other healthcare facility has high safety standards inside, these same standards should also be met out in the parking lot, where slips and falls are the most common type of injury. Take care when moving through these areas during or after inclement weather. Suggest use of moisture-absorbent mats near all exits and entrances, both outdoors and inside, to reduce moisture tracked in.
Clear obstacles from aisles and walkways. Food carts, cleaning supplies, gurneys; all of these provide obstacles and clutter that clog up hallways, entrances, and stairwells. Try to be aware of any changes to your environment, and speak up if your workplace is prone to clutter and other safety hazards.
Wear proper footwear. When a fall-related Workers' Compensation claim is investigated, the footwear the individual was wearing at the time they became injured is often considered relevant to the outcome of the claim. Even if you are non-medical staff like admin assistants or maintenance, invest in high-quality, slip-resistant shoes for the workplace.
Don't trade safety for speed. It's common, especially during emergencies, to move quickly to help provide potentially life-saving medical care or when time is of the essence. However, hurrying and being distracted heavily increases your chances of being involved in a slip and fall injury. Instead, walk quickly but purposefully, and maintain awareness of the environment around you at all times.
Contact Bluestein Attorneys for Workers' Compensation Claims
Bluestein Attorneys has experience working with injured South Carolina workers to recover the costs associated with treatment and recovery from their work-related injuries. If you're a healthcare professional who has been injured on the job, or you were injured in a medical facility due to a slip and fall, we'd be happy to speak with you and let you know your options moving forward.
Contact us online to request your free Workers' Compensation consultation by clicking the banner below, or give us a call at (803) 779-7599.