Falls in Hospitals

Main Research Findings and Policy/Prevention Implications

  1. Main Research Findings
    • Workers in BC’s healthcare are at high risk of occupational falls.
    • Fall injuries increased over the three year study period (2005-2007).
    • Workers in the long-term care sector are at higher risk of falls compared to the other two sub-sectors,
    acute care and community care.
    • With respect to occupation, Facility Support Services workers, Community Health workers and
    Maintenance workers are at high risk.
    • Females and older workers are more vulnerable to fall injuries compared to their male and younger
    colleagues.
    • With respect to body parts affected falls largely resulted in injury to the upper extremity.
    • The major contributing factors identified are slipperiness and uneven floor surfaces, inadequate
    lighting and ice and heavy precipitation.
    • With respect to workers’ compensation statistics, for falls that result in time-loss from work, on
    average 14 days were lost (median) with a median compensation claims costs of $1703.

Policy/Prevention Implications

  • • Since the rate of falls is high and increasing over time, falls prevention initiatives should be a
    priority in healthcare.
    • Occupation-specific interventions may be helpful to bring effective and immediate changes,
    keeping in mind the diversity of tasks they perform, dispersion of their workload over the day,
    week, month, and season and the different work environments for a wide range of occupations
    working in the healthcare sector; a job task analysis may be helpful to obtain detailed information
    on how the tasks are currently performed to suggest alterations.
    • Facility Support Services workers and Community Health workers are particularly vulnerable;
    therefore policy and prevention strategies should be targeted towards them.
    o The majority of falls for Facility Support Services workers occurred in the dish-room- the
    drainage functions and current floor conditions floors in the dish-room should be
    examined and improved and current compliance to general housekeeping procedures
    should be scrutinized as well.
    o The majority of falls for Community Health workers occurred outside the clients’ homes;
    thus, hazard perception training and an appropriate footwear policy and ensuring
    compliance may be helpful.
    • Lack of proper signage (caution signs/wet floor) and slow and inadequate cleanup were concerns
    identified across facilities; thus, compliance to current housekeeping procedures should be assessed
    and improved.
    • Promotional campaigns to improve reporting of near-miss and minor fall incidents will be helpful
    in order to pro-actively identify and reduce associated hazards before serious injuries occur.
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