Wintertime Slip and Falls Create Serious Risk of InjuryNovember 8, 2018
We all know the dangerous winter conditions bring slip and falls. Snow and ice make driving so unsafe at times that both schools and businesses experience delays and even closures. And though we try to be very mindful of the risks involved with driving in such conditions, rarely do we give as much consideration to the dangers lurking right on the sidewalk. During the wintertime, snow and ice may prove a large injury risk for winter slips, trips, and falls.
Unintentional Falling Leading Cause of Nonfatal Injury
According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, unintentional falling is the leading cause of nonfatal injury across all age groups except for the age group of 10-24, where it is the second leading cause of nonfatal injury.
Wintertime Contributes to Risk
Compounding the risk of winter slips, trips, and falls is the temperature itself. When it is extremely cold out it tends to be human nature to move faster. When you combine the cold temperatures with crowded areas, including businesses, people are rushing to get in and out of everywhere quickly.
The Seriousness of Slips, Trips, and Falls
The CDC reports that more than 800,000 people are hospitalized annually related to a slip and fall injury, such as a hip fracture or head injury. In fact, most brain injuries are caused by slips, trips, and falls. The statistics are astounding:
- One out of every five falls results in a serious injury such as a head injury or broken bones
- At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures annually
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling – usually sideways
- Three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year
- From 2007 to 2016, fall death rates in the United States increased by 30%.
Reducing the Risk
It is important to recognize that while the risk of a slip, trip, and fall cannot be completely eliminated, there are certain conditions that you can control, which contribute to the likelihood of occurrence. By changing or modifying the following risk factors, you can help to prevent falls:
- Broken or uneven steps and surfaces
- Clutter that can be tripped over
- Difficulty with walking and maintaining balance
- Foot pain
- Lower body weakness
- Poor Footwear
- Use of certain medications including tranquilizers, antidepressants, or sedatives
- Vitamin D Deficiency
It follows therefore, that the more risk factors that a person has, the higher their likelihood of experiencing winter slips, trips, and fall. Furthermore, during the wintertime, there are a few tips for navigating the parking lot. The Snow and Ice Management Association recommends that workers:
- Anticipate slippery surfaces (keep in mind black ice, which often refreezes at night)
- Do not do anything that adds to your distraction (e.g. listen to music, talk on the phone)
- Look for wet floors when entering the workplace; often co-workers may track in snow and slush
- Remain conscious of snow or ice that may fall from overhead (e.g. off of awnings and buildings)
- Walk slowly and be aware of your surroundings when snow or ice is present, use handrails wherever possible
- Wear appropriate footwear with heavy tread
What Can You Do?
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