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Fall program keeps $ from slipping away
Slips, falls are becoming the No. 1 injury
As more hospitals tackle the injuries from patient handling, a second major cause of musculoskeletal injury is coming to the forefront: Slips, trips, and falls.
In 2008, there were about 14,000 slips and falls in U.S. hospitals that led to days away from work, second only to cases of work loss due to overexertion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Just as you have a comprehensive program to reduce patient handling injuries, you should design a program to address slip and fall hazards, advises Jennifer Bell, PhD, a research epidemiologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Morgantown, WV.
"Hospitals tend to look at the nature of injury. We have a lot of sprains and strains," says Bell. "But they don't necessarily look at what's causing the sprains and strains. If they looked at the events, they would find a good percentage of them are actually due to slips and falls."
Bell and colleagues found that a comprehensive approach can reduce slips and falls by as much as 59%.1 "There are so many different causes of slips and falls that any one change seems insignificant," says Bell. But the evidence shows that approaching the problem systematically can produce results, she says.
That is the approach taken by Trinity Health in Novi, MI. When workers' compensation director Terry Fisk, CIH, CSP, analyzed injury claims, she found that slips, trips, and falls were No. 1. "It was a little bit of a surprise," she says. "You'd think it would be lifting. It's starting to surface what a huge problem this is."
1. Bell JL, Collins JW, Wolf L, et al. Evaluation of a comprehensive slip, trip and fall prevention programme for hospital employees. Ergonomics 2008;51:1906-1925.