We’ve all seen those prime-time medical dramas on TV. You know, the ones where you watch doctors, nurses, and paramedics running around the hospital frantically trying to transport, stabilize, or heal patients. It’s amazing how nothing seems to knock these characters off their game.
What you don’t see on these programs is health care workers slipping and falling down while trying to do their jobs. Unfortunately, that’s a real and common occurrence in many hospitals and medical facilities across the country.
Yep. Everybody is upright. Must be a TV show.
In fact, slips, trips, and falls (STFs) make up the second-most cause of injuries that lead to lost workdays in health care facilities. In addition, these injuries frequently result in lower productivity, a decreased ability to care for patients, and expensive worker’s compensation claims. About 45% of STFs cause injury to the legs, knees, ankles, and other lower extremities; and nearly half of them are strains, sprains, tears, or dislocations of some sort.
Common Health Care STF Hazards
What causes these health care professionals to slip, trip, or fall? Here are some of the most frequently-cited hazards by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Water on the floor next to water fountains, in restrooms, and near building entrances
- Grease, oil, or food on the floor in kitchens, cafeterias, and other foodservice areas
- Liquid on the floor from clogged drains or misaligned pipes
- Flooring that is warped, buckled, damaged, or uneven
- Ice and snow near entrances, in parking garages or lots, inside walkways, and outside stairwells
- Inadequate lighting, especially in storage rooms, hallways, stairwells, and parking areas
- Stairs, steps, ramps that are poorly-maintained, uneven, or unequipped with handrails
- Clutter such as loose cords, hoses, and cables in patient rooms, workstations, and storage areas
And spilled coffee. Many hospitals run on coffee, after all.
Preventative Measures to Reduce STFs in Healthcare Facilities
Thankfully, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to minimize or eliminate these hazards and reduce the incidence of slip, trip, and fall accidents in health care facilities. These include:
- Implement a comprehensive housekeeping program.
- Make staff aware of where cleaning supplies, barriers, and wet floor warning signs are stored.
- Hang spill pads in convenient areas to allow employees to quickly clean up spills.
- Place floor mats near water fountains, entryways, foodservice areas, and all other high-traffic or moisture-prone locations.
- Encourage health care workers to wear slip-resistant footwear.
- Make sure pipes are positioned so that they lead into drains.
- Unclog drains as soon as possible.
- Repair or replace carpet that is loose or buckled as well as tile flooring that is blistered or indented.
- Patch cracks in walkways that are more than a quarter inch wide.
- Implement an aggressive ice and snow cleanup program during the winter.
- Place scoops in bins of ice-melting chemicals near entryways or in areas where ice may accumulate so that employees can address ice patches as they see them.
- Keep employees apprised on icy or freezing weather conditions.
- Install more light fixtures and make sure they have bulbs that emit light on all sides.
- Implement a dependable program to change burned-out lights and bulbs.
- Create visual cues such as colored paint or tape near stairs so they can be more easily seen.
- Install slip-resistant materials on steps and landings.
- Make sure handrails are installed in stairwells, alongside ramps, and near steps, and ensure that they are in good working order.
- Utilize wall-mounted hooks, spools, and shelves in storage areas to reduce clutter.
- Use cord organizers and/or retractable cords near workstations.
- Cover cords on floors with protective tape or beveled protective covers.
- Clear clutter out of walkways.
Some of the solutions are actually pretty simple.
As you can see, floor mats play an integral role in helping protect flooring and reduce STFs. Ultimate Mats has a wide selection of floor mats that are ideal for many types of healthcare settings. Check out the Ultimate Mats website today to see how their products can help your hospital or health care facility protect its employees from the dangers of slip, trip, and fall accidents.
Written by Chris Martin