Falls represent a substantial risk of injury to both nursing home residents and employees, in California and across the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that nursing home workers are forced to take time off work for injuries at rates 2.3 times higher than all other employees in private industry. An analysis of the reasons shows that slip-and-fall accidents are largely to blame for the discrepancy.
For that reason, OSHA is planning to conduct a campaign for the next three years focusing on inspecting nursing homes for safety violations, hoping to prevent some of these falls and the resulting injuries. Slip-and-fall accidents account for 15 percent of all deaths from accidents in this country, making it a cause of death second only to vehicle crashes.
Some of these falls are caused by slippery, wet and dirty surfaces on the floors of nursing homes, leaving much room for improvement in efforts to prevent such accidents. Nursing homes, as well as other facilities and businesses experiencing a high number of injuries from falls, may wish to consider the use of a commercial floor mat system. The use of such mats, especially in areas with heavy foot traffic, can prevent moisture and dirt from pooling and piling up on walking surfaces.
Some recommended areas for floor mats include areas around drinking fountains and sinks, where there may be frequent spills of liquid onto the floor. Areas around entryways into buildings are also prime locations, since arriving employees and visitors track in moisture and dirt on their shoes there. There also are some types of floor mats that can reduce joint and muscle fatigue which nursing home employees frequently experience when they are on their feet for too long.
People who suffer injuries from a fall on a slippery floor may have grounds for a premises liability lawsuit that can provide compensation for resulting medical bills and lost wages, if necessary.
Source: EHS Today, "OSHA Warns Nursing Care Facilities to Watch Their Steps," Sandy Smith, Sept. 4, 2012
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