Pride may go before the fall, but those falls can end up costing a lot. You would think that, in the vast panorama of accident types out there, that falls wouldn’t be such a big concern. After all, everyone falls at one time or another. But then again, maybe that’s the point; falls are big deals because they’re so common.
For instance, if you spend any time in a hospital, you will find that the staff is rather vigilant about enforcing the “don’t get out of bed unless supervised” rule. That’s because falls are a huge concern, and they are costly. “The annual costs of slip-and-fall injuries in the United States is around $60 billion – that’s billion with a ‘b'” says David Chapman, founder of Ultimate Mats. “In today’s tight economy, absorbing the costs of even a single slip-and-fall accident can be detrimental and even fatal for a business.”
A Workplace Hazard
According to the National Safety Council, around 25,000 people are involved in slip-and-fall accidents every day, which comes out to one very four seconds. This of course leads to some steep expenses for emergency and medical care.
The problem with falls in the workplace is that the risk is not only there for the employees, but also for customers walking in off the street. This means if you own your business, you have a double liability threat on your hands.
The six major causes of slip-and-fall accidents are weather-related (rain, snow, ice), poor employee training, wet or uneven (broken) surfaces, incorrect footwear, neglect in nursing homes, and finally, fake cases of falling.
An Ounce Of Prevention
So now that we know how prevalent falls are, and how costly they can be, what’s to be done? How does a business (or a residence, for that matter; homeowners are vulnerable to lawsuits too!) protect their premises from being a falling hazard?
There has already been mention made of special slip-resistant floor mats available to absorb water better and increase traction. That’s a good start, and fairly easy to implement. You can add to this by making sure that sidewalks are sanded and salted, an important habit to get into in the cold-weather months.
Post Adequate Warnings
Granted, this is not a magic cure-all that will absolve you of any liability, but having warnings set up for areas that are particularly hazardous will at least help reduce the likelihood of an incident. Places that are chronically hazardous should have a permanent sign; temporary hazards should be called out by use of yellow warning easel signs or orange cones. Unfortunately, people tend to run into doors that are clearly labeled PULL, so don’t expect warnings to be a 100% effective tactic.
Although the phrase “increase awareness” has become one of the biggest cliches in the world, it nevertheless is appropriate here. If you have a business, make sure your staff is trained to spot floor hazards and are ready to immediately act on them. Every company’s staff must be made to understand the importance of cleaning up spills and/or dealing with slippery surfaces. This should be a priority, not an afterthought.
There is no way that a business or home owner can fully prevent falls, but by implementing the above strategies, at least the likelihood can be decreased. Some of the measures may cost a few dollars and take up extra time and energy, but in the long run it’s a smart investment.