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Preventing Deaths, Injuries from Workplace Falls

Gerry Dumke
Posted on: July 28, 2016 by Gerry Dumke

According to Labor Department, after transportation-related deaths, falls are the number-one cause on-the-job deaths. Disabilities due to falls are also a serious issue. In fact, fall injuries constitute a considerable amount of Workers’ Compensation and medical costs – approximately $70 billion annually in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. Moreover, non-compliance of CFR 1926.501 Fall Protection is most cited by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

It’s important for employers, including those who operate nursing homes and assisted living facilities, to implement measures to improve safety in the workplace and reduce the number of fall incidents among employees (in addition to their patients/residents, which is also of paramount importance). This is particularly so as the projected age level in the workforce is expected to increase significantly, which also increases the exposure to falls. The Labor Department projects that by 2022, workers’ ages between 55-64 will increase by 36.5%, those who are 65-74 will increase by 83.4%, and workers 75 and older will increase by 84.3%.

Following are several steps employers should take:

  •  Vet all known hazards before relying on human behavior modifications. Fall hazards are no exception.
  • Identify and eliminate trip hazards whenever possible. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, make the trip hazard conspicuous. Increase visual awareness of the hazard during dawn, dusk and night by adding high contrasting and reflective colors.
  • Pay attention to visual delineation for change of surface, transition areas, lighting (color, contrasts, shadows, intensity, etc.) and ensure all are appropriate for use and the environment. Ramps, rails, slip-resistant floors and co-efficient of friction are all considerations to decrease fall risks.
  • Have an aggressive program during inclement weather. For example, promptly remove ice and snow from parking lots, garages, and sidewalks.
  • Improve housekeeping practices – clear up items on the floor, such as loose cords, liquids or improperly stored materials, contaminants. These are all are trip or slip hazards.  Keep floors dry and clean.
  • Employees assisting residents in wet environments should consider wearing slip-resistant shoes for additional traction. Employees working in kitchens may benefit from wearing slip-resistant shoes during their entire shift.
  • Training regarding recording and coding the initial injury event should be provided to workers to ensure that the specifics of each injury event are properly documented and coded in injury records. Workers should also be trained to recognize common workplace slip, trip, and fall hazards and mitigate these hazards promptly.

The facility should also review past Workers’ Compensation claims, including looking at incident reports, first report of employee injury, OSHA and/or occupational health. Review the narrative descriptions of the incidents to identify what types of slips, trips and falls of are most common at the facility and to identify specific locations where there are multiple “injury hot spots” over the last several years.

Caitlin Morgan can assist you in securing Workers’ Compensation insurance for a wide range of industries, including for the senior living sector. We specialize in insuring nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other healthcare facilities and can help in placing a robust comp program that also includes comprehensive loss control and risk management measures. Give us a call at 877.226.1027.

 

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Posted in: blog Nursing Home Uncategorized Workers Comp Workers Compensation