Fall prevention awareness week
First aid for falls
Fall prevention awareness week takes place between 23 - 29 September 2019. And while prevention is better than cure, we know that slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injury at work.
According to HSE’s annual health and safety at work statistics, slips, trips and falls are responsible for 31% of workplace accidents* and costs UK employers £500m each year.**
Fall prevention tips
According to The Health and Safety Executive guidance, the majority of slips and trips are caused by obstructions in walkways or uneven surfaces.
The best way to prevent slips and trips is by improving and inspecting three things:
- Walkways – are walkways in the right place and available to use? Think about what tasks are taking place on the walkway and if the task will prevent someone from seeing where they are going, for example.
- Housekeeping – as well as ensuring walkways are clear of any obstructions, such as trailing wires, staff members need to have a ‘see it, sort’ attitude to ensure these and other work areas are kept clear.
- Design and maintenance – flooring should be fitted correctly and properly maintained and walkways should wide enough and level.
Falls from height can be prevented through the use of working platforms with guardrails, or particular access equipment, such as MEWPs (cherry pickers, scissor lifts, mast climbers etc).
For more guidance on how to prevent slips and trips, please visit: www.hse.gov.uk/slips/preventing.htm
First aid for falls
Slips, trips and falls commonly result in sprains, strains or even broken bones. Find out how you can help below if someone has an accident at work.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains describe when muscles or joints are overstretched which can be painful.
So, what should you do to help someone in this situation?
If your colleague trips and falls they could twist their ankle or wrist or overstretch a muscle in their shoulder, back or leg. Sprains or strains are usually swollen and painful and can sometimes bruise. You should take the following steps:
- Get the person to rest.
- Apply an ice pack to the injury - This will help to reduce the pain and swelling.
- If there is no improvement, advise them to seek medical advice.
Broken bones can happen as a result of a fall if someone falls from a height or if they land in an awkward position.
Someone who has a broken bone will usually have pain, swelling and bruising, and may have difficulty moving their limb. If you suspect your colleague has a broken bone, you should take the following steps:
- Encourage them to support the injury with their hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement - Supporting the injury may help to reduce pain and prevent further damage
- Arrange for the person to go to hospital. Call 999 if necessary.
- Continue supporting the injury until help arrives.
How can learning first aid help?
If someone is injured or becomes suddenly ill at work, there is no greater act of human kindness, than a person with the skills and confidence to step in and provide first aid support.
Our interactive first aid at work courses give you the skills and confidence to respond to a range of first aid emergencies, including helping someone who has a bone, muscle or joint injury.
*HSE Health and Safety at Work Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2018