5,580 people in England and Wales had accidental falls mentioned as an underlying cause of death on their death certificate in 2017, according to new research by Safety Services Direct.
The study analysed recent ONS data on mortality from accidental falls and found 15 people on average died each day in England and Wales because of these mishaps. The 75+ age group were most at risk, with 79% of these deaths falling into this age range. However, for the remaining 21%, males under 75 had more deaths associated with these fall accidents compared to females.
According to the data, the North West has the highest fatality risk from accidental falls out of all the regions, followed by West Midlands and then the South East. Misfortunate residents in the North West were 3.4 times more likely to die in relation to accidental falls than those in the North East, who were at the bottom of the regional list.
When it came to local authority level, Outer London topped the list with 220 deaths linked to accidental falls. Inner London followed, with 135 deaths. Outside of the capital, Birmingham (130 deaths), Cornwall (130 deaths) and Liverpool (75 deaths) had the highest fatality risks from accidental falls. Dudley and Leeds (both with 70 deaths) along with Bristol, County Durham and Stockport (all with 65 deaths) made up the remainder of the top 10 for highest mortality rates.
Nisha Lawrence, Operations Director at Safety Services Direct, commented:
“Our research shows that there is a need to safeguard homes for the 75+ age group as they are most at risk. However, all ages can be affected by accidental falls, so putting necessary health and safety practices in place both at home and in the workplace to avoid injuries and potential fatalities is vital.
“The irony is that fall injuries are some of the easiest to prevent in the home and workplace. There are simple measures that can be put into place to significantly reduce these risks, such as:
1. Keep walking surfaces clean and avoid cluttering
“When walkways are clear, the risk of injury greatly reduces. With a path that is unobstructed, the chance of a person falling over an object reduces, as does the potential of a spill that could create a dangerous slipping hazard.
“A home or workplace with effective lighting inside and outside of the building helps reduce the chances of an accident. By illuminating areas that are commonplace for trips and falls to happen, you can shine a light on hidden dangers. This will reduce any chance of an accident.
“Using health and safety signs in the workplace that are clear and well-placed helps identify areas with potential problems. Placing a sign that indicates a step, gap or an uneven ground brings attention to hazards and increases their awareness and attentiveness. Reflective tape can also highlight issues.
“Stairs are one of the most common areas for falls to happen in the home and the workplace, so additional care is required here to prevent injuries. Keep all stairwells well-lit and clear of obstacles, ensure handrails are fitted where possible, use reflective tape used to mark the top and bottom of the stairs, and fix any unsecured carpets or rugs that you have had to remove from the stairs.
“Make sure your workforce know clearly what attire is needed, including which safety footwear is appropriate for the conditions they are working in.
6. Step Ladders
“Providing accessible equipment such as ladders and step ladders helps employees reach heights safely. By ensuring options are available, this reduces the possibility of an employee being hurt by climbing on chairs or tables.
7. Manage Wires
“Wires that are out in the open can create obstacles for employees and the public which could cause injury. Cables should be put behind walls or under carpets, so they remain hidden. Install all power sources, servers, internet connections in places that can be easily accessed, to avoid cables appearing along walkways.
8. Check Condition of the Floor
“Cracks and holes in the pavement on the outside should be filled in. Repairing them immediately will reduce the risk of any injury happening. When an area is waiting to be fixed, warning signs should be placed to highlight the danger.
9. Keep Filing Cabinets and Drawers Closed
“Everybody has to open a filing cabinet or a drawer during the day but leaving them open can lead to injury. Staff should be encouraged to ensure all drawers and cabinets are closed when not used to avoid potential dangers.
10. Clean Up Spills Immediately
“If a spill happens at home or in a workplace, it should be cleaned up immediately. If certain liquids penetrate the surface, it can actually cause a surface to be more slippery than before after it has been cleaned up.
“When a spill takes place at work, warning signs should be placed around the hazard immediately, and whilst the clean-up of the wet floor takes place. If a floor is known to be slippery anyway, this needs to be highlighted with an appropriate sign”.