Slips, trips and falls (STFs) are one of the most common types of claims and a source of loss for many industries. The health care industry isn’t an exception to this trend.
In fact, slips, trips, and falls make up 66% of all claims in health care, according to The Hartford’s data. These kinds of claims are also the source of nearly half of all losses in the health care industry.
Where do slips, trips and falls happen in health care?
- 50% occur inside the office
- 24% happen in the parking lot or outside of the facility
- 22% happen in the lobby entrance
“Health care service providers are in the business of keeping people well. Carrying forward that concept to their business operation, they should understand that includes all visitors to their premises and preventing slips, trips and falls is important,” said Heather Savino, health care industry lead at The Hartford. “Health care professionals should aim to create a culture of safety where there’s proactive strategies in place to reduce slips, trips and falls.”
While it may not be realistic to eliminate all the risks for slips, trips and falls, there are preventative measures that businesses can take.
Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in Health Care
Traditionally, addressing the risks for slips, trips and falls involved focusing on physical hazards. This, however, may not be enough to protect health care businesses and patients.
“It’s more than just being really good at the basics. Health care professionals are encouraged to think more upstream with a focus on proactive, cost-effective measures to reduce risk to their companies, employees and patients,” said Rob Gaus, executive technical consultant in Risk Engineering at The Hartford. “Be sure to stay focused, have meaningful site inspections, engage in contractual risk transfer, respond to spills and have a timely and effective snow and ice removal plan.”
A good starting place is knowing a business’ history with slips, trips and falls. Do they occur more frequently in one area of the health care facility? Is there an increase in claims during certain seasons?
“Knowing the history and mapping the high-risk areas of a property and facility is important,” explained Amy Gnadt, executive risk engineering consultant at The Hartford. “If you know where to look and how to address risks and hazards, you can be proactive to keep your employees and patients safe.”
A key measure that can have a big impact on prevention is technology. Certain systems and features, like artificial intelligence, can help risk managers and business owners identify slip, trip and fall risks in real time and give them an opportunity to address them.
For example, spill detection software uses artificial intelligence to recognize and report a liquid spill. Businesses can also make sure they have an effective use of camera systems. A camera system has the added benefit of strengthening your legal defense in a lawsuit because recordings can provide data for investigation and serve as evidence.
Address Changing Conditions To Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls in Health Care
In the winter, weather can create new hazards for patients walking in and out of your building. Whether it’s snow, rain or sleet, having a weather-related plan in place is essential. Entrances and exit points should be clear and treated for ice.
It’s not just weather conditions that businesses have to worry about. Conditions inside your health care building can quickly change and require immediate addressing. For example, a spill in the cafeteria or hallway needs to be cleaned up right away. Otherwise, people can fall and hurt themselves.
Management and Maintenance Considerations for Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention for Health Care Workers
Proper maintenance of your health care building is a crucial piece to reducing slip, trip and fall claims. Some of the things you can do to make your building safer include:
- Evaluating lighting and installing motion activated lights
- Using contrasting colors or additional lighting to identify elevation changes in parking lots or walkways
- Conducting visual inspections of walkways and parking areas daily
- Making repairs quickly after identifying issues
- Ensuring there’s appropriate drainage to prevent water pooling and ice
- Having a snow removal plan
- Creating a non-slip footwear policy for employees
When it comes to non-slip footwear, it may be a good idea to create a program to make sure health care employees aren’t wearing worn out shoes. Less traction can increase the risk of slips, trips and falls resulting in more employee injuries, according to Andy Miller, executive risk engineering consultant at The Hartford.
“Health care workers will be working in wet environments, whether it’s assisting individuals they’re caring for or unknowingly walking on a wet floor after a spill,” Miller noted. “It may not be enough to have a slip-resistant shoe requirement, but starting a frequent shoe replacement program can help make sure employees have the proper footwear on at all times.”
Using Design To Address Slips, Trips and Falls in Health Care
If you’re constructing new buildings or renovating existing facilities, you can partner with your facilities personnel and design professionals to reduce slips, trips and falls. For example, you can choose a slip-resistant floor material while planning and designing.
Don’t forget to look at all of your high-traffic entrances. You can place entrance mats to provide a smooth and seamless transition from the mat to the floor surface inside the building. Otherwise, patients and employees can trip and fall while entering and leaving.
Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls for Health Care Workers and Patients Requires a Comprehensive Plan
Solving the issue of slips, trips and falls isn’t easy in any industry, but being proactive and addressing risks and hazards ahead of time can put your health care facility in the best position to reduce slips, trips and falls.
Partnering with an experienced insurance carrier who can help find problem areas and provide solutions can also be an essential part to your risk management plan. At The Hartford, we pride ourselves in knowing the unique risks and challenges that many industries face.
If you’re planning to review your slip, trip and fall risk management plan or need help creating one for your health care facility, we can help.
La información proporcionada en estos materiales brinda información general y de asesoría. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) will be an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety, legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant, attorney or business advisors. All information and representations herein are as of January 2022.