Thursday, June 19, 2014
Trips, Slips, Falls - and Lawsuits
Trips, slips, and falls can be costly to employees, employers, and patients. And they should be avoided, due to both personal pain and suffering, and a different kind of pain and suffering that can occur when the victim sues. Whether it's an employee or a client who is injured, loss comes in a variety of ways.
A case in point: just a few months ago, a New Jersey customer filed a federal lawsuit against a Pennsylvania Home Depot store - because she was injured after slipping in standing water outside the business. Plaintiff Darleen Cook suffered a cracked pelvis, herniated disc, fractured sacrum, and neck and back pain. She alleged that workers at the store had done absolutely nothing to prevent water from pooling at the store’s entrance on a rainy September day. And she’s seeking $150,000 in damages.
Couldn’t happen in your practice? But it can. One moment of inattention, one piece of clutter, one slippery floor. A stumble, trip, slip, or fall - and whether the accident affects a staff member or a client, it can lead to serious injury, serious costs, and even a lawsuit, just like the one filed in New Jersey. A wide variety of conditions and situations set the stage for these workplace accidents.
Naturally, you want to prevent them. But where to start? MedTrainer can help. We offer the courses you need to train your staff to become aware of and compliant in OSHA standards both federal and state - including rules and regulations designed to prevent slips, trips and falls.
Did you know that per the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls cause:
15 percent of all accidental deaths per year, the second-leading cause behind motor vehicles
25 percent of all reported injury claims per fiscal year
More than 95 million lost work days per year
That's significant, and appalling data.
To prevent these situations, you need staff members who are trained and aware. From situations such as the wet surfaces that opened Home Depot up to a law suit, to the use of proper signage and clean up techniques that help staff and patients alike to avoid uneven floors, loose mats, damp or freshly waxed floors to the prevention of clutter, open drawers, loose cords or cables - it all starts with staff members who know what to guard against.
Workplace falls after all cause both pain and suffering, lost time, and the legal pain that can come from lawsuits, and a lack of adherence to OSHA standards. OSHA fines are nothing to brush aside, they can be costly. At MedTrainer we’re geared toward preventing fine assessment and helping you become fully OSHA compliant, and safe.
Statistics show most of the falls that occur in the workplace happen on the same level, not going up or down stairs or from a height. These slips usually happen when there isn’t enough traction between your shoes and the surface you’re walking on. Tripping means losing your balance due to loss of traction, meeting another object, being unaware of cords, loose carpet or mats, and the like. But both situations occur when your feet and the walking surface they’re striding on meet in an unexpected fashion.
Staying clutter free is one of the most important ways to prevent falls and tripping. Clean up spills and indicate any wet areas with signs or cones. Don’t let clutter build up, even if you think it’s safely tucked away beneath a desk. Establishing a system that manages and identifies any risk areas, and encouraging staff members to be compliant with safety procedures are the key elements of preventing a slip or trip safety issue. Let’s look back at that Home Depot incident. Proper signage warning of puddling, and clean up of standing water could’ve prevented a world of trouble for the business, and for the injured plaintiff. Did they know to use these techniques and fail to utilize them? Or did they simply not know? Regardless, somewhere down the line there was a lack of essential training necessary to successfully follow OSHA guidelines.
It’s always important to keep a sharp eye out for areas that will keep your workplace safe.
Slips, trips and falls cause personal injury that can be quite severe. And yet so many of these incidents are completely preventable by following standard precautions and safety measures.
Staying safe at work prevents injury and illness, avoids staff stress, regulatory fines, and the potential for lawsuits. In short, making the workplace safe is vitally important for all aspects of the healthcare professions.
Over 653,000 nurses and other healthcare staffers are injured yearly. There’s a number that truly needs reducing. At MedTrainer, we provide the comprehensive safety training to prevent all types of slips and falls and keep healthcare staff and patients both safe and healthy, as well as adhering to OSHA requirements.
While training in safety and compliance is essential, there are some basic you can use right now to help your hospital, medical, dental, or veterinary practice be safer. First of all, always follow good housekeeping - leaving clutter, cords, or spills around leads to a high incidence of injuries, citations, and increased insurance rates, too. Put together a program to establish cleaning procedures as routine, plan the work, and assign responsibilities for completing it.
Second, eliminate wet or slippery areas - or place proper signage or cones indicating they are present. This includes the parking lots and sidewalk space that caused trouble at Home Depot. Clean up spills quickly.
Third, pay attention to the state of traction on surfaces. Need abrasive strips to prevent slips? Anti-skid paint? Moisture absorbing mats in entrance areas and near sinks?
Fourth, get rid of obstacles. That means clutter, equipment that’s out of place, cords, and cables. Eliminating these hazards is key to preventing trips and falls. Close file drawers, unpack boxes and get rid of the packing material promptly.
Fifth, keep an eye on visibility. Are things well lit? Poor lighting means poor footing. Yes, work areas should be well lit and clean, and it’s also important that staff understand to turn on a light when entering a darkened room, keep light switch areas clean and accessible, repair any cords are switches or fixtures that malfunction, and replace any burnt-out bulbs.
It’s also vitally important - and a part of the structured, easy to follow, online training MedTrainer offers - to get staff members on board with these necessary safety and compliance steps. Being in too much of a hurry, or carrying too much at one time can lead to falls. Wearing sunglasses in low-lit areas can contribute, major distractions such as texting or talking on a cell phone...also lead to big problems with on the job injury.
Preventing distractions, instructing staff members, and caring about the workplace environment requires an overall shift in direction for many healthcare offices. It’s a shift that’s worth making: prevent trips, falls, spills and you are preventing injury, fines, work loss, and lawsuits. It’s that simple.