Unintentional injury is the fifth leading cause of death in Indiana and in the United States. Fatal occupational injury statistics between 2011-2015 are available.
Eight hundred workers lost their lives in 2015 due to a fall. Occupational activities and home maintenance provide ample opportunities to experience falls. Fall protection information can be found at the OSHA site.
How can falls be prevented?
- Place ladders on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft, or wet.
- Don't over-reach or lean too far to one side when you're working on a ladder—you could lose your balance and fall. When you're on a ladder, your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
- Wear appropriate, properly-fitting shoes when doing activities that require you to climb. Keep shoelaces tied.
- Keep in mind that falls can occur from surfaces other than ladders. Watch where you are walking and pay attention to curbs, cracks in the sidewalk, and other items in your way.
- Use the railing and pay attention while walking down stairs.
- Eliminate tripping hazards in your home. Remove boxes, electrical cords, and other barriers from walkways.
- Place a slip-resistant mat or stickies on the floor of your shower, and place a rubber-backed rug outside of the shower to step on when you exit the shower.
- Immediately clean up spills.
- Fix loose areas of carpet or loose flooring that can lead to trips and falls.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake, which can lead to falls.
- Increase lighting in dark areas to improve visibility of hazards.
What should be done after a fall?
- First-aid should be used to treat any minor injuries, such as abrasions or sprains. The Self-Care section of this web site provides guidance.
- If you think you might have a broken bone, visit a healthcare provider or the emergency room.
- Determine if emergency care is needed.
When should emergency services be utilized (calling 911 or visiting an emergency room)?
If the fall victim experiences the following signs of head trauma:
- Has a loss consciousness for any amount of time, experiences confusion, or is drowsy.
- Has a low breathing rate or drop in blood pressure.
- Has convulsions.
- Has a fracture in the skull or face, facial bruising, or scalp wound.
- Has fluid drainage from the nose, mouth, or ears (may be clear or bloody).
- Has a severe headache.
- Has initial improvement followed by worsening symptoms.
- Becomes irritable (especially children), demonstrates personality change, or behaves unusually.
- Is restless, clumsy, or shows a lack of coordination.
- Has slurred speech or blurred vision.
- Is unable to move one or more limbs.
- Has a stiff neck.
Occupational injuries must be reported within 24 hours of their occurrence or on the next business day if they occur on a weekend or holiday. An IU Injury Form must be obtained from and signed by your supervisor and brought to the clinic. Simple falls at home or school that are not work-related often can be treated at home. See a healthcare provider if musculoskeletal injuries do not improve after one week.