COMMENTARY

Slipping, Tripping, and Falling at Work

James W. Collins, PhD, MSME; Jennifer L. Bell, PhD

Disclosures

June 11, 2012

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Risk Factors for STF Injuries in Acute Care Hospitals

Hospital workers who have been on the job for less than 6 months (2.0 STF claims per 100 FTE) and for 6 months to 1 year (1.7 STF claims per 100 FTE) have higher STF injury claims rates than workers who have been employed longer than 1 year (1.1 STF claims per 100 FTEs). Women had higher STF rates than men, and despite being experienced, workers of either sex older than 45 years have higher STF rates than workers younger than 45 years. Workers who are exposed frequently to wet, slippery working conditions, such as those in food services and housekeeping, have among the highest STF claim rates of all occupational groups, and nursing staff, because of their large employment figures, are the occupational group with the greatest total number of STF-related injury claims (Table).[8] The most common type of injury after an STF event is a sprain or strain.

Table. STF Workers' Compensation Claim Rates, by Job Group

Job Group Number of STF Claims Hours Worked % of Total Hours Rate per 100 FTE
Food services 57 2,872,015 3.6 4.0
Parking/valet/transport 10 618,607 0.8 3.2
Emergency medical services 11 997,357 1.2 2.4
Custodial/housekeeping 41 4,000,007 5.0 2.1
Maintenance/groundskeepers 11 1,504,635 1.9 1.6
Teachers and childcare workers 14 2,064,253 2.6 1.4
Unknown 1 174,391 0.2 1.1
Nursing/nursing-related 141 27,055,196 33.6 1.0
Other health professions 26 5,169,605 6.4 1.0
Security 3 798,905 1.0 1.0
Physical/occupational therapy 10 1,097,623 2.5 1.0
Medical/laboratory technicians 44 8,864,009 11.0 1.0
Office/administrative 95 20,378,625 25.3 0.9
Physicians 2 1,724,854 2.1 0.2
Total 472 80,506,017 100 1.2

FTE = full-time equivalent; STF = slip, trip, and fall
From Collins JW, Bell JL. Prevention of slip, trip, and fall hazards for workers in hospital settings. In: Charney W, ed. Handbook of Modern Hospital Safety. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 2009.

Top 10 Hazards Contributing to Hospital Worker STF Incidents

NIOSH identified the following top 10 hazards contributing to STF events in hospital settings:

  1. Contaminants on the floor.

  2. Irregularities in indoor walking surfaces.

  3. Irregularities in outdoor walking surfaces.

  4. Weather conditions.

  5. Inadequate lighting.

  6. Stairs and handrails.

  7. Stepstools and ladders.

  8. Tripping hazards and clutter.

  9. Improper use of floor mats.

  10. Clogged drains.

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