Because slips, trips, and falls are a major source of both home and industrial injuries, there are a few more things we need to present to you today. Whose fault is it when someone falls? There is certainly no room anywhere – at home, school, or work – where an intentional prank causes someone to fall. You know, the old “pull the chair out from behind someone,” trick, where the one sitting winds up on the floor. As we get older, we realize that a fall can have lasting health effects on people.
Do you think that people get hurt because they just don’t respect safety regulations and procedures? Normally this isn’t the case, according to studies. It is usually a brief moment of inattention that ends in disaster, not a person’s indifference to safety procedures. If you think about it, inattention can be identified as the root cause of injury in most every category of accident analysis (traffic mishaps, power tool injuries, aggression incidents, etc.). In regard to slips, trips, and falls, inattention can lead to regrettable events ranging from a simple bruised shin to extremely serious consequences such as concussions, or even death. Have you heard someone say, “I guess I just wasn’t thinking,” during an accident investigation? Sometimes we are too wrapped up in a conversation, or thinking about the next job, or a personal problem or activity, that we forget to pay attention to the hazards around us. From the State Office of Risk Management, Texas, here is an “Inattention Test” that might help: Do you:
- Get bored easily?
- Lose track of conversations (having to ask, “What were you saying?” (Yes, I do!)
- Suddenly return to reality (after driving past your exit on the freeway)?
- Know your job so well you could “…..do it with your eyes closed?”
These examples and others show potential for inattention. A person’s state of mind is his/her own personal property, and, of course, cannot be controlled by a boss or the workplace. As a result, the supervisor must frequently emphasize to the workforce the consequences a loss of focus could cause. Stay alert and don’t lose sight of what you are doing. If you get in a hurry because you lost your train of thought, you might start walking too fast, or running, and lose your balance. Distraction, not watching where you are going, carrying materials that obstruct vision and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries. So, plan, stay alert, and pay attention! Employees should report any slips, trips, or fall hazards that they identify at work. Posters displaying fall warnings also should be placed in areas that are frequented. Training is one of the most important keys to preventing falls at work. No horseplay should be allowed. It’s o.k. to have a little fun, but not at the expense of a personal injury and lost time at work.
Last, but not least, at work or home, the lighting should be good. Be sure you are aware of the location of light switches, and have a flashlight handy, too. Proper lighting ensures that employees using stairways or elevators can be safe. In homes with staircases, you certainly want adequate lighting. Another tip for home or work: never use a chair as a ladder! That’s an accident just waiting to happen. If you go outside, be sure you have shoes that are safe to walk on wet sidewalks or slippery areas. Older citizens usually pay a higher price after experiencing a fall, such as a broken hip, so any time you see someone who seems to be a little unsteady, offer them your strong arm. As we said yesterday, do your best to stay upright, and avoid those messy slips, trips, and falls!