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Published: October, 2010; Vol 7, Num 5

 

Elderly at Particular Risk:

Inspection, Good Housekeeping
Key to Home Fall Safety   

Alternate description

LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck

“Workplace fall hazards can turn earning a paycheck into a health risk, but staying home is no guarantee of fall safety,” says LHSFNA’s Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck.  “The clutter, poor lighting and sloppy housekeeping that turn some construction sites into obstacle courses are also typical of the places where many of us live.”

Home Safety Council (HSC) research finds that falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury and death. Falls in the home – where more than half of all accidental falls occur – send more than three million people to emergency rooms each year, causing over five million injuries and close to 6,000 deaths. Tripping over toys and pets, falling off chairs while changing light bulbs, slipping on wet bathroom floors and catching feet on loose carpeting or stray electrical cords rack up $100 billion in medical costs every year.

As Borck points out, older adults are at particular risk. “Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among those older than 65. The rate has been rising for more than a decade.” Yet, broken bones, traumatic brain injury and death can happen to anyone – children, young parents, all workers and Laborers alike.

Laborers and LIUNA signatory contractors follow simple safety measures to reduce the risk of worksite falls. When this approach is applied in the home, the risk is reduced there as well. Start with a home safety inspection:

Prevent Falls

  • Have handrails that extend from top to bottom on both sides of stairways.
  • Install bright lights on stairways.
  • Keep stairs and hallways clear.
  • Tape or tack rugs and carpet to the floor.
  • Have nightlights in bedrooms, halls and bathrooms.
  • Have mats or nonslip strips in tubs and showers.
  • Have bath mats with nonskid bottoms on bathroom floors.
  • Have grab bars in tubs and showers.
  • Wipe up spills.

Protect Children

  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Use window guards.
  • Cover ground under playground equipment with nine-12 inches of mulch, wood chips or other safety material.

Outdoors

  • Put bright lights over porches and walkways.
  • Have handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Put ladders away, storing them on their sides in sheds or garages.
  • Keep sidewalks and paths clear.
  • Fix broken, chipped steps and walkways promptly.

“Falls are not like death and taxes,” says Borck. “They’re not inevitable. With forethought and common sense, most falls can be avoided.”

[Janet Lubman Rathner]