Preventing Trips and Falls at Home and the Workplace: Design and Layout Considerations

By Kris Lindahl Realestate

Falls are the most common cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Every year, one in four Americans over the age of 65 experiences some kind of fall. It is said that one older adult dies every 19 minutes from a fall.

Trying to Prevent Trips and Falls

Most falls are preventable. Improvements in the home and workplace can help create a safe environment for people who need it. Before you can start making these property improvements, you must first know which improvements are most beneficial, and which hazards create the most problems.

Having this knowledge can be useful when making decisions for the individuals at your home. Additionally, modifications at work can be made to ensure safety for all and to prevent trips and falls. The following guide provides strategies and improvements for a safe environment, whether it is at your home or at your place of business.


Bedrooms

Clutter and poor lighting in the bedroom can cause falls. Good organization, proper daytime and nighttime lighting, and good housekeeping skills can help keep the bedroom safe. Whether it is your bedroom, the bedroom of your child or someone else in your house, you can keep the bedroom safe by using good organizational tools and by evaluating the state of the bedroom on an ongoing basis.

It is also important to keep your bedroom clean and the floor clear. Cleaning your bedroom on a regular basis can help prevent accidents that can lead to injuries. Additionally, there are many tools that you can use to keep your bedroom accident-free.

Bed Rails

The bed is one of the most common sites of falls in the bedroom. Young children fall from their bed when sleeping because they lack the sense of the edge of the bed possessed by older children and adults. Older adults and adults with disabilities, chronic conditions or illness may also fall from the bed when getting out of or into the bed.

Bed rails prevent different types of falls, though each type of bedrail may be designed to provide different types of protection. Bed rails are commonly found in children’s bedrooms, in the homes of seniors and in assisted living and residential care facilities. It is important to choose the right bedrail for your needs, as not all bed rails serve the same purpose. Read the instructions when attaching a bedrail, and only use it as directed.

Organized Space

Organization makes the bedroom easier to navigate. Because many people spend time walking through their bedroom in the dark, it is especially important for the bedroom floors to have open walkways, free of clutter. There are many things you can do to keep an organized bedroom.

  • Clear out clutter on a regular basis, donating or giving away things you no longer use or need.
  • Use modular storage solutions to add storage space and keep objects off the floor.
  • Keep a hamper easily available to keep dirty clothes off the floor.
  • Spend 5 minutes in the evening every night cleaning up.
  • Use trays on dressers and in drawers to catch clutter.
  • Install shelves and furniture dedicated to containing and organizing clutter.

Closets

Organize your closet to prevent it from becoming its own type of hazard. Store heavy items down low or on the floor, but leave enough room in your closet to enter and exit safely. Place lightweight and rarely used items up on higher shelves. Use baskets and shelving to keep loose items off your floor. Once per week or once every two weeks, clean your closet to prevent the mess from overflowing.

  • Install adjustable shelves and make adjustments as items on the shelves change.
  • Evaluate the lighting in the closet and install electric lighting as needed, either hardwired into the closet or in the form of a lamp.

Flooring

The right type of flooring can prevent slips and falls. Carpeting in particular is non-slip and can pad a fall if one occurs. If your bedroom has hard tile floors, a thick rug can help as well.

If you are unable to get safely into and out of the bed, install a safety mat by the bed to provide actual padding in the event of a fall. Good safety mats are non-slip and have a gradual incline rather than a bump that can be tripped over. Shop carefully when buying a safety mat for your bedroom.

Lighting

Sometimes, people fall in their bedroom because they’re navigating in the dark, either to take a bathroom break or to have a midnight snack. While most people will not turn on their lights at night to navigate their bedroom safely, there are alternative forms of illumination that can prevent these falls from occurring. Some options include:

  • Red-spectrum nightlight to illuminate objects on the floor
  • Under-the-bed, motion-activated lights that turn on when someone gets out of bed

For safety reasons, nightlights need back-up batteries that kick in when the power turns off. Other helpful bedroom lighting options include:

  • Bedside touch lamp
  • Bedside flashlight
  • Natural lighting from a window
  • Dimmable light fixtures with a rocker-style light switch for easy turn-on, turn-off and dimming functions
  • Track lighting and recessed lighting options, in addition to bedside lamp and overhead lighting features

Bathrooms

Each year, about 235,000 people over age 15 visit the emergency room because of injuries they sustained in the bathroom. Slippery floors, small spaces with low furniture, and physically demanding tasks that take place in the bathroom (stepping into and out of the shower, getting up from and sitting down on the toilet) are all common reasons that people get hurt while using the bathroom.

There are many things you can do to make your bathroom safer. These improvements make your bathroom safer for you, your children, your relatives and guests.

Grab Bars

Using Grab Bars to Prevent Falls

Grab bars provide balance for people getting into and out of the tub or shower. If you should slip while using your bathtub, shower or toilet, a well-placed grab bar can stop the fall before you hit the ground. Some tips when installing grab bars:

  • Follow all manufacturer instructions when performing installation, or have the grab bars installed by a professional.
  • Install grab bars that are rated to support the weight of the heaviest person in your house.
  • Use a yank-test to test that the grab bar has been properly installed.
  • Never use a towel bar in place of a grab bar, as towel bars are not rated to hold enough weight to support you in a fall.

Grab bars are often seen in the homes of elderly people, but they are useful in homes of all people, and are a common part of the universal design. Grab bars can prevent children and middle-aged adults from falling.

Non-Slip Surfaces

Bathroom surfaces can become slippery when wet, leading to slips and falls inside and outside the bathtub. Non-slip surfaces can prevent falls by being less slippery when wet.

Install Non-Slip Tiles

Rough, stone tile floors are much less slippery than ceramic tiles and are a common option if you are looking for a traditional bathroom flooring material that is less slippery than ceramic tiles. However, there are other options.

  • Rubber tile. Rubber is non-slip and also provides a softer surface than stone tile.
  • Cork tile. Cork tile is non-slip like rubber tile and is also slightly softer than stone but must be sealed in a high-moisture area.

Install Non-Slip Decals

Non-slip decals are commonly installed on bathtubs and showers to prevent slips. Non-slip decals are a semi-permanent solution for a slippery bathtub or shower. Older decals have a way of rubbing off and leaving ghosts of themselves on the bathtub or shower floor, so use quality decals and be ready to use extreme methods to clean decals off when they get old and need to be replaced. Finally, read the manufacturer instructions to ensure the decals you choose will adhere to the surface that you’ll be applying them to.

Use a Rubber Mat

Rubber mats are an alternative to decals in the bathtub or shower. Mats have some advantages over decals because they can be removed, cleaned, and put back when needed. Some tips:

  • Only use rubber mats that are specifically intended for use in the bathtub or shower.
  • Keep the mat away from the drain.

Walk-In Bathtubs

Many bathroom trips and falls happen when people are getting into or out of the bathtub. A walk-in bathtub is a unique product that can prevent this kind of fall. Walk-in tubs come with a door that opens and closes. To use the tub, open the door, walk in, shut the door behind you and sit in the tub while it fills with water. When you are finished bathing, wait for the tub to drain, then open the door and step out of the tub.

While walk-in bathtubs do prevent slips and falls, getting into and out of the tub while the bath is taking place is not possible. This means the person using the tub must take care to ensure that they have everything they need to take their bath before they get in. If you use a walk-in bathtub in your home, keep shampoo, conditioner, soap, and towels easily accessible from the tub. Consider a wall-mounted dispenser for cleaning products.

Walk-in bathtubs usually have seating, which can also help prevent falls. If a walk-in bathtub doesn’t sound right for you, then a shower with a seat or a bench may be a good alternative. If you are installing an all-new shower in your home, opt for one with built-in seating. If you are on a budget, buy a seat for your existing shower.

Lighting

Poor lighting in the bathroom leads to trips. Lighting in your bathroom can be decorative as well as functional, preventing accidents and improving your home’s value. Work with an electrician to install a variety of lighting fixtures, including pendant lighting, recessed lighting, track lighting, overhead lighting and a back-lit mirror.

With multiple lighting options in your bathroom, use multiple light switches to provide more control. Experts recommend using 75- to 100-watt light bulbs in the bathroom to ensure the space is properly illuminated. You may choose some lower light options in small spaces like over the shower or over the toilet, but provide options to ensure that you can achieve the light levels you need in order to stay safe.

One thing to remember is that bathroom lighting can be decorative as well as utilitarian. When choosing lighting options for your bathroom, pendant light fixtures add artistic flair to your bathroom space. On a budget? Installing nightlights in your bathroom is a low-cost way to keep your bathroom illuminated at night while you are searching for the light switch.


Kitchen

Kitchens can be as dangerous as bathrooms. Water on the floor can lead to slips and falls, while clutter can also contribute to falls as well. A kitchen design that minimizes reaching and bending can prevent falls. You can also prevent falls in the kitchen by keeping it organized, remodeling to ensure good storage, and by developing good habits in the kitchen.

Layout

Design your kitchen layout for simplicity. Open spaces with wide walkways provide space for multiple people to work in the kitchen at the same time. Avoid installing counters with sharply angled edges. Avoid using distracting patterns on your countertops, floors or walls, as anything that creates a visually confusing scene can lead to accidents. Finally, avoid installing reflective surfaces in your kitchen for the same reason. Reflective surfaces can also be slippery, so avoid installing reflective surfaces on your floor.

Use a secure step stool to access cabinets and shelves that are too high to reach. If you are installing new cabinets, your contractor may even be able to install a pull-out step stool in the lower parts of your cabinet.

Appliances

Appliances in the kitchen need to be kept at the same depth as the counters to prevent the possibility of running into the sides. Even refrigerators can be made to the same depth as the counter to avoid trips and falls. These special refrigerators are known as counter depth refrigerators.

Appliances should also be laid out in a kitchen triangle to help prevent accidents, with the cooktop and refrigerator kept within a certain number of feet of each other. The kitchen triangle is designed to ensure the kitchen is functional and easy to use. There is not only one way to arrange a kitchen triangle, so work with a contractor who is familiar with the kitchen triangle concept to choose the best layout for your kitchen.

Flooring

Now more than ever, there are many non-slip, waterproof flooring options for kitchens. Some of the most common non-slip flooring options include:

  • Engineered vinyl planks. This flooring is waterproof, looks like wood and is designed to be non-slip.
  • Cork flooring. This type of flooring must be sealed to maintain water resistance, but it is effectively non-slip and softer to cushion any falls.
  • Non-slip stone. Non-slip stone tile is rougher than ceramic tile, and therefore is more slip-resistant.

On a budget and unable to replace your flooring? Place a non-slip mat in front of your sink. Rubber safety mats prevent puddles in front of the sink from becoming slip hazards.

Lighting

Kitchen lighting is critical. Whereas poor lighting can lead to slips and falls, good lighting makes it much easier to get work done without running into anyone or cutting yourself while doing work at the counter. As in the bathroom, it is important to install a variety of lighting choices in the kitchen.

  • Task lighting. Found under the cabinets, task lighting illuminates counters and is essential for food preparation activities.
  • Track lighting. Track lighting can be directed to illuminate walkways and kitchen islands.
  • Pendant lighting. Pendant lighting hangs over tables and tall counters where people sit.
  • Recessed lighting. Recessed lighting uses focused illumination to help people navigate walkways.

As in the bathroom, it is important to install a variety of light switches to give yourself control over the amount of light in the kitchen. Work with your contractor to install lights and light switches according to code.


Living Room

The living room is not a place where people often have accidents like slips and falls, but there are hazards in the living room that can lead to injuries. Additionally, living rooms are places where people spend a lot of time. With small adjustments, the living room can be made safer.

Installing grab bars on the walls makes it easier and safer to get out of the chair or off of the couch. Replace older furniture with sunken cushions, because firm cushions on new pieces of furniture tend to be easier to get up from. Below are some things you can do to make your living room safer overall.

Layout

Your living room layout can cause or prevent accidents, just like in the kitchen. Clutter and furniture in the wrong place can cause a tripping hazard. This is especially true in the living room, where furnishings are often short and easy to run into. Keep your coffee table spaced far enough from your chairs and couch that there is room to get into and out of the chairs and couches as needed. Side tables should be kept on the side of the couch and out of walkways.

The living room is a place that can easily become cluttered, because so many people spend the majority of their time in the living room. Install a shelving unit or modular storage to prevent clutter from building up in your living room, and clean the clutter periodically from your living room to prevent little piles of books, magazines, or school work from building up on the floor.

Cord Management

Cord Management Tips

Especially in older homes, where there are not enough outlets to accommodate all the new technology, people often use extension cords to keep their television and electronics plugged in. While this is sometimes acceptable on a temporary basis, extension cords should not stretch over walkways and should never be placed in permanent use.

Position your furniture to ensure that your electronics are as close to your power outlets as possible, and keep seats together and away from the power outlets. When you must use an extension cord, keep the extension cord along the wall and behind the furniture away from walkways. If you find that you must use extension cords permanently in your living room to use your favorite technologies, work with an electrician to install more outlets in your living room.

Flooring

Non-slip flooring is just as important in the living room as it is in other parts of the house. However, unlike the stone tile or rubber flooring found in the kitchen, flooring in the living room may be more focused on comfort. Carpeting is a common non-slip option found in the living room, and many people like it because it is warm and feels soft under bare feet. Should you happen to fall on carpeting in your living room, you may suffer fewer injuries than if you had fallen on hard tile.

On a budget and want carpeting in your living room? Install a rug. Take care not to install a rug that sticks up high above your floors, as this could cause trips. If possible, keep the edges of your rug out of walkways.

Lighting

Proper lighting in the living room illuminates walkways and cuts back on shadows where people spend a lot of time. Lighting in your living room should be comprised of a mixture of overhead lighting, lamp lighting, track lighting and recessed lighting. Install track lighting along walkways, and aim the lighting as needed. Install lamps at all available outlets.

Place a light switch near the door. If there are multiple doorways where you can enter the living room, there should either be switches at both doorways, or there should be another source of light that enables you to see into the living room from the door way with no light switch. For example, if there is an alternative entryway into the living room from the kitchen, you may not need a light switch in the kitchen/living room entryway if lights from the kitchen will illuminate the living room.


Laundry Room

Laundry rooms are often dark rooms, with little or no natural light, and little space for maneuvering. With all the lifting and hanging of laundry that happens in the laundry room, there are many opportunities for accidents in this room. You can prevent slips and falls by improving overhead lighting, remodeling the room for easier accessibility, installing better flooring and choosing appliances carefully to avoid accidents.

Appliances

Some washing machines are designed for good accessibility, with buttons and dials easily positioned on the front of the machine. These machines are designed so that you won’t have to over-extend yourself to operate the machine. Use a machine with dials that feature clearly written words, and/or digital indicators that are easy to read. The easier your washing machine is to use, the less likely you are to become injured while using your machine.

Stacked machines require the user to reach up and extend themselves to put clothes in and take them out. If possible, use machines that are low to the ground. Front-loading machines that are low to the ground can also cause their own slips and falls by requiring you to bend over and lift from a bending position. You can avoid accidents with front-loading machines by placing your machines on a pedestal that lifts it up a foot or more.

Flooring

Like in the bathroom and kitchen, laundry rooms often have slippery floors that can lead to accidents. You can prevent such slips and falls by removing any slippery flooring and installing vinyl or rubber flooring instead. Rubber flooring in particular is very useful in the laundry room because it is slightly cushioned and will soften any blow from a fall.

Lighting

Under cabinet lighting and flooring can illuminate dark walkways in your laundry room. This is especially important in the laundry room where clothing and materials may hang from clothing lines as they dry, casting shadows in the room. Work with an electrician to install recessed lighting throughout your laundry room and under cabinet task lighting for extra illumination on countertops and table tops while you work. When installing lighting, consider the placement of the appliances and tables in the room, and place the lighting where it will always provide the most use.

Remember to layer your lighting, so that illumination from multiple fixtures will always overlap. This will cut back on shadows and ensures that even if they exist, they won’t be too deep. This strategy makes working in your laundry room easier overall and can prevent trips and falls.


Garage

The garage is an often overlooked part of the house, but it is a place where people can easily have accidents, especially from slips and falls. Dark shadows in the garage, slippery floors, oil spills, water from melted snow and ice, and other factors can all play a roll in garage accidents. You can prevent such accidents by assessing the condition of your garage, identifying potential sources of accidents, rearranging items in the garage to keep them out of the way and by modifying your behavior in the garage.

Location

People frequently go between their home and their garage. Some people keep their garbage cans in their garage, which necessitates a nearly daily visit to throw out the trash. People who park their car in their garage typically use their garage on a daily basis throughout the week as they get into and out of their car. During the growing season, people use their garage on a regular basis to access their yard tools and lawn mower.

With all the time spent getting into and out of the garage, it becomes especially important for the garage to be conveniently located. You may be less likely to have accidents if your garage is on the same level with your home. If you have mobility issues, look for a home with an attached garage that has few or no steps up or down to get into and out of the garage. If the garage is not attached to the house, look for a garage that is connected to the house with an easy-to-navigate pathway.

Prevent the Build Up of Clutter

In many households, clutter is worse in the garage than in other places. Clutter on the floor increases the risk of tripping and falling. Prevent clutter from building up in the garage by keeping items sorted and organized. Empty the garage, then sort and organize everything into piles: sell, give away, throw away, and keep. Buy organizers for the items you plan to keep, then deal with the other piles as quickly as possible. If you do not deal with other piles quickly, they may just form new piles of clutter on the floor of your garage.

When organizing the clutter you decide to keep, store heavy things close to the ground and lighter things up off the ground. Install a loft area in the garage for storing items that don’t need to be around the walkways.

Flooring

Concrete is the typical material found in most garage floors; however, concrete can be problematic for a variety of reasons. Concrete can develop cracks that can become a tripping hazard in addition to becoming slippery when wet. Most likely, your garage floor is already made of concrete. You can fix this by installing rigid plastic or flexible interlocking tiles over the concrete. Some coatings over concrete can also add a non-slip surface.

If you are building your house or garage, talk to your contractor about concrete alternatives for your garage floor. Your garage contractor can suggest flooring types that can keep your garage floor safe and non-slip.

Lighting

Most garages have limited lighting. Presence of shelves and clutter can cast deep shadows if the garage does not have adequate light. Automatic garage doors often provide a source of light, but unless you supplement that light with other sources, your garage will likely be very dim inside. If you are on a budget, the cheapest option is likely workshop fluorescent lighting, which can be installed on the ceiling of your garage without help from an electrician if there are outlets accessible. If you’d like something a little more powerful and permanent, talk to an electrician to have appropriate lighting installed.

Consider smart technology that can be voice controlled or controlled through an app on your smartphone, which enables you to turn on the lights from anywhere and can eliminate opportunities to trip over unseen boxes.


Stairways

Stairways can be dangerous for individuals with reduced vision, lack of coordination and poor balance. Even without any disabilities, chronic conditions or muscle weakness, if you are carrying objects while using the stairs, you can easily fall down and suffer a terrible accident. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize the risk of a fall, either by preventing a fall from occurring or by padding the fall to make it less likely to cause injury.https://www.youtube.com/embed/-LdNb1Q5KuM

Handrails

Every staircase should have handrails, and if yours doesn’t, then this is a clear opportunity for a home improvement. If possible, install handrails on both sides of the stairs. Attach the rails to the studs in the wall. Install the handrails so they extend over the full length of the stairs and slightly beyond the bottom and top. Have a handyman or contractor install the handrails for you, to ensure the work is done properly and according to code.

Stair Lifts

Stair lifts are commonly found in homes with people who are elderly or disabled, as they provide a safe way to get up and down stairs without doing any of the climbing with your legs. Therefore, stair lifts dramatically reduce the chance of slipping and falling. Standard stair lifts cost about $2,000 for a basic model, or about $200 per month to rent. Curved staircases and lifts for exterior staircases are more expensive. You may be able to save money by installing a refurbished stair lift.

Surface

Carpeted stairs are safer than non-carpeted stairs because carpeting is naturally non-slip; if you do fall down on carpeted stairs, you are less likely to hurt yourself. If your stairs are made of wood, concrete or tile, install a carpet runner on your stairs to soften the surface and make it less slippery.

When installing a carpet runner on your stairs, inspect the runner for bunched-up areas and smooth it as much as possible. Use stair rods to keep your carpet in place and to prevent it from causing a tripping hazard.

Lighting and Visibility

Staircases must be properly illuminated in order to prevent accidents. Low-glare overhead lighting is best. Some homeowners install pendant lighting over their stairs while others install recessed lighting fixtures. The best lighting over staircases usually needs to be hardwired into the house, which means you will need to work with an electrician to get the light fixtures installed over your stairs.

Install accessible light switches at the bottom and top of the staircase, so you will always be able to access the light whether you are ascending or descending the staircase.


Exterior of the Home

Your home’s exterior can be just as dangerous as the interior. Cracks in the pavement, staircases, poor lighting and visibility and uneven ground can all cause accidents that lead to serious injuries. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to eliminate or greatly reduce tripping hazards around the house. By making repairs, identifying hazards and keeping up with the maintenance around your home’s exterior, you can avoid the worst accidents.

Entryway

Use the principles of universal design to inform your entryway design choices. Install a ramp leading up to your front door as well as a staircase, or install a ramp instead of a staircase. Install a railing leading up to your doorway, whether it is along a ramp or a staircase, to give yourself something to grab onto if you should happen to slip.

Work with your contractor to ensure that the entryway to your home is made from a non-slip material, like a non-slip, exterior-grade stone tile. If your entryway is pre-built, inspect it periodically for cracks and make repairs as needed. Cracks can get wider and cause a tripping hazard if they’re allowed to remain, so address them quickly.

Avoid using throw rugs on your home’s porch or front stoop, as rugs themselves are a tripping hazard. If you must use a rug, use one that lies relatively flat against the concrete. Fix uneven pathways leading up to your home’s front door.

Lighting

Exterior Lighting for Increased Visibility

Lighting is just as important outside as it is inside. During the day, use light from the sun to keep pathways illuminated. If the walkway to your front door is darkened by plants or shrubs, cut them back to reduce shadows.

At night, rely on garden lighting or lamp light to keep your pathways easy to see. Hardwire your garden lighting and lamplight to ensure that your outside lights are always working. Garden lighting that relies on battery power dies easily, which could leave you either changing the lights regularly or could mean that your garden pathways will always be difficult to see.


Preventing Trips and Falls in the Workplace

Just like in the home, workplaces can be full of tripping hazards. However, you can prevent trips and falls in the workplace by inspecting your workplace regularly, identifying hazards, and taking the time to make repairs as needed. By preventing trips and falls in the workplace, you can make your commercial building safer for yourself and other members of your staff.

Wear Proper Footwear

Footwear can prevent or cause falls, depending on the type of footwear and the type of terrain in your workplace. For example, if your workplace is a construction site, all employees should wear construction boots with proper tread. In a case like this, provide guidelines to all employees regarding the type of work boot that employees are required to wear to ensure compliance and overall safety. In an office or indoor setting, non-slip soles made from hard rubber, not leather, are often best for preventing accidents.

OSHA guidelines sometimes dictate what type of PPE, including work shoes, are required in certain work environments. Check with OSHA for guidelines about your workplace environment.

Manage Cords and Cables

A common cause of trips and falls in the workplace are cords and cables. Many electronics in the workplace require cords and cables, which can be most dangerous when they cross or line walkways. However, cords can be dangerous even when they seem out of the way.

Manage cords and cables by running them behind walls and under carpets. Use a cable organizer or cord management system to prevent loose cables or cords from becoming a hazard. Even rolling cords up and tying them in place with a cable tie can prevent the worst accidents from taking place. When remodeling your workplace, focus on installation of adequate outlets around the office to ensure that all electronics can be plugged in easily in the location where they are needed, without requiring extension cords to be used in walkways.

Display Signage

Wet Floor Sign for Workplace Safety

Signs alert workers to tripping hazards like slippery floors and bumps in walkways. Display signage prominently and promptly as soon as a hazard has been identified. Keep reusable signs (especially wet floor signs) on hand for convenient access. When printing your own signs, use bold, bright colors that stand out. Make signs large and noticeable, and display them clearly in the location of the hazard. Re-assess signage as needed, and remove signs as soon as a hazard has been eliminated.

Use Proper Equipment

Assume there will be times when you and people in your workplace—whether you work in an office, a store, a restaurant, a construction zone, or somewhere else—will need to access difficult-to-reach areas. Ladders and stepping stools can help you access these spaces in safe ways. Without the presence of stepping stools and ladders, many employees will use unstable chairs, desks and tables, which can lead to trips and falls.

When choosing step stools for your office, look for models that have handles for providing stability. Choose ladders and step stools of various heights to give employees options.

Flooring

Cracks and uneven pavement inside and outside can cause accidents. As an employer, you have a responsibility to repair cracks and damage in the flooring that could cause accidents like trips and falls.

Assess the condition of your flooring and pavement regularly, and look for areas that need repair. When looking for tripping hazards, don’t just look for cracks and damage; also look for unnecessary bumps and curbs that could cause someone to fall.

Replace bumps and curbs with ramps, or highlight the presence of bumps and curbs by painting them yellow to draw attention to their presence. Work with a contractor to make repairs.

Clean up spills immediately. In the case of oil spills, sprinkle the area with sand or absorbent material to prevent falls. Keep your flooring clean and uncluttered. Organize your office to keep boxes and stacks out of your office and off of the floor.

Light

Just as proper lighting is important for preventing slips and falls in the home, it is also important for preventing falls in the workplace. Assess lighting around your office and make adjustments as needed.

  • Allow natural light into the office whenever possible by opening blinds and curtains.
  • Keep furniture out of the way of windows to promote entrance of natural light into the space.
  • Hire a contractor to install bright overhead lighting in dark spaces.

When installing lights in your office, remember to install accessible light switches at points of entry into the room. If a room has multiple points of entry, discuss the best way to address this issue with your contractor.

If you are unable to install overhead lighting, install lamps as a temporary measure while waiting for the electrician to make these changes to your workplace. Get creative with your installation of illumination around the office. Install spotlights and motion-activated lights in outside areas, especially if your office is used at night as well as during the day. Install lights on stairs as well.


Fall Prevention Strategies

You can prevent falls everywhere you go. By changing your behaviors and by changing the way you assess your environment, you can avoid many trips and falls. This is especially important if you are older, have disabilities or if you have a condition that could make you more prone to accidents. By using the following fall prevention strategies, you can even change the behaviors of the other people in your household, which could prevent falls all around.

Examine Your Health

Your health has an impact on your vulnerability to trips and falls. If you’ve fallen in the past, consider the factors that contributed to that fall. Did trouble with your vision, hearing, balance or coordination play a role? Remember that some medications can impact balance and may make you more prone to falling.

If you can identify an underlying condition that contributed to your fall, work with your physician to troubleshoot and prevent situations like this in the future. Get annual hearing and vision tests, as vision and hearing problems can also contribute to your vulnerability.

Engage in Physical Activity

Workouts that improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility can prevent falls by giving you the strength to walk and interact with the world safely. Walk daily. Perform light exercises in your living room. Not sure which exercises are most useful? Work with your physician, physical therapist or chiropractor to identify exercises that are right for you. This is especially important if you suffer from any chronic conditions, heart conditions or other physical conditions that could limit your ability to engage in physical activity.

Wear the Right Shoes

Pumps, leather-soled dress shoes, and slippers or sandals without treads can easily lead to falls. Practice the habit of assessing your footwear before you buy it, and only purchase footwear that supports upright, easy physical activity. Before leaving the house in any footwear, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is the weather like?
  • Where will I be walking?
  • What will the condition of the roads, pathways and walkways be like?
  • Will I be engaging in a physical activity other than walking?

When purchasing shoes, try to only buy shoes from companies that consider ergonomic factors in their designs. Do not buy shoes for looks alone; buy them for health as well.

Understand Where Hazards Are Located

Get in the habit of assessing every room for hazards as soon as you enter the space. Look for cords, clutter, blocked walkways, spilled liquids and more. In your own home, get in the habit of cleaning up your floors and indoor spaces every night. Be watchful of objects that could cause falls, like skateboards, and make a designated space for those objects. Put objects of this nature away after every use.

Keep tables and furniture out of high-traffic areas. Loose rugs, spilled liquids and clutter can contribute to falls. In your own home, remove these hazards as soon as they present themselves. In someone else’s home or in public spaces, make yourself aware of these hazards and avoid coming into contact with them.

Keep Emergency Lights and Communication Nearby

Keep a flashlight on your keychain and in accessible places around your house. Keep a flashlight in your car as well, and check the batteries regularly. Keep a battery-powered flashlight on the nightstand near your bed for nighttime trips to the bathroom. Always keep a phone in your pocket or purse in case you fall.

Ask for Help

Know your own limitations, and ask for help when you need it. When engaging in demanding household maintenance and activity, get a partner to help you. Whether you are cleaning the garage or the attic, getting down the holiday decorations, pulling pots out from the back of the kitchen cabinet or clearing brush outside your house, get help when you need it. Having a partner can make these physical activities easier and helps ensure that someone will be nearby to help if you do fall.


Trips and Falls Can Be Prevented

Examining Health Records

Trips and falls happen, but many of them can be prevented. By changing the way you move in your environment, the way you maintain your home, and the way you take care of your workplace can help you avoid a trip and fall event that could lead to an injury. For more information about how you can keep your home and workplace safe, work with professionals like your doctor and the safety officer at your workplace. Taking these steps can help you avoid disaster and stay safe.

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