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Evaluation of a comprehensive slip, trip and fall prevention programme for hospital employees

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In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the incidence rate of lost workday injuries from slips, trips and falls (STFs) on the same level in hospitals was 35.2 per 10,000 full-time equivalents (FTE), which was 75% greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined (20.2 per 10,000 FTEs). The objectives of this 10-year (1996-2005) longitudinal study were to: 1) describe occupational STF injury events in hospitals; 2) evaluate the effectiveness of a comprehensive programme for reducing STF incidents among hospital employees. The comprehensive prevention programme included analysis of injury records to identify common causes of STFs, on-site hazard assessments, changes to housekeeping procedures and products, introduction of STF preventive products and procedures, general awareness campaigns, programmes for external ice and snow removal, flooring changes and slip-resistant footwear for certain employee subgroups. The hospitals' total STF workers' compensation claims rate declined by 58% from the pre-intervention (1996-1999) rate of 1.66 claims per 100 FTE to the post-intervention (2003-2005) time period rate of 0.76 claims per 100 FTE (adjusted rate ratio = 0.42, 95% CI: 0.33-0.54). STFs due to liquid contamination (water, fluid, slippery, greasy and slick spots) were the most common cause (24%) of STF claims for the entire study period 1996-2005. Food services, transport/emergency medical service and housekeeping staff were at highest risk of a STF claim in the hospital environment. Nursing and office administrative staff generated the largest numbers of STF claims. STF injury events in hospitals have a myriad of causes and the work conditions in hospitals are diverse. This research provides evidence that implementation of a broad-scale prevention programme can significantly reduce STF injury claims.
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Keywords: falls; healthcare workers; injury epidemiology; slips; trips

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, Morgantown, WV, USA 2: BJC Health Care, Corporate Health Services, St. Louis, MO, USA 3: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland 4: Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, USA 5: Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA 6: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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