Slip and fall accidents can’t be ignored as problems that only happen to a specific type of worker or simply as hazards to people who don’t pay close enough attention to their surroundings. The truth is that slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone in any industry. According to the National Safety Council, there isn’t a single industry that isn’t affected by such incidents, but the industry with the highest numbers of falling accidents might surprise you.
When thinking about industries with a high risk of accidents, the ones that come to mind are typically those that involve heavy machinery and dangerous environments. Images of coal-shaft elevators descending into the dark unknown come to mind, as do scenes of rapidly moving assembly lines with a hundred moving parts flashing and gyrating. It’s true that the mining and manufacturing industries have their fair share of risk – including that of fall accidents – but it isn’t in slanted mine shafts or near busy conveyor belts that the most U.S. workers slip and fall. That title goes to the industry of education and health services.
In 2012, the most recent year for which these statistics are available, the mining and manufacturing industries had 700 and 12,240 fall-on-same-level nonfatal injuries. In the same year, the education and health services industry had 34,050. It’s on gleaming hallway floors and other presumably safe environments that majority of occupational falls take place. The next two industries with the highest accident rates are the retail and hospitality industries with 19,250 and 18,900 nonfatal falling accidents respectively.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, slips, trips and falls accounted for 25 percent of hospital workers’ injuries in 2013. The only category higher than it was injuries due to overexertion, which accounted for 48 percent of incidents. A third of hospital worker injuries that result in days away from work occurred while the worker was helping a patient. Educators and other school staff have to contend with rowdy children or erratic working environments. Both sectors have to deal with spilled liquids that could cause a fall. These are all elements that can’t necessarily be reduced with proper training. It’s impossible to eliminate all of the risk factors.
Wearing slip-resistant shoes and taking breaks with the feeling of exhaustion comes on are two key ways to avoid slips and falls. People in the education and health services industry spend their time helping others, but it’s just as important that they take care of their own safety and well-being.
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