Slips, Trips and Falls

The new Joint Commission’s EC News for March 2019 discusses the importance of organizations preventing injuries related to slips, trips and falls (STF). This not only applies to patients, but to staff and visitors as well. Statistics indicated that Nurses, nursing assistants, and non-patient-care staff are the most likely to experience STF injuries, which account for 25% of all injuries involving days away from work at hospitals (second only to overexertion and bodily reaction, which cause nearly half of injuries).

This is often cited under Joint Commission Standard EC 02.06.01: The [organization] maintains a safe, functional environment: EP 1: Interior spaces meet the needs of the patient population and are safe and suitable to the care, treatment, and services provided; EP 11: Lighting is suitable for care, treatment, and services.
EP20: Areas used by patients are clean and free of offensive odors; and EP 26: The [organization] keeps furnishings and equipment safe and in good repair.

Organizations must have (as one of the Environment of Care Management plans) a plan to manage Safety risk within the environment (EC 01.01.01 EP4). This safety plan should include all aspects of safety – patients, staff and visitors. Example – if an organization has a safe patient lifting program, there should be safe lifting equipment available to all staff, staff training on the related lifting equipment and monitoring of employee injuries that would be a result of patient lifting or moving. Components within the Safety Management Plan should address plans and processes in place to prevent slips, trips and falls. If an organization cannot prevent slips, trips and falls – the processes in place must attempt to prevent injury related to these events.

OSHA requires several items related to preventing slips, trips and falls including:
• Train staff members to keep walking-working surfaces dry and free of hazards, such as slush from people’s boots and shoes tracked inside during winter weather and objects that have fallen on the floor.
• Train staff members to report and clean up spills immediately.
• Where wet processes are performed, provide drainage and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places.
• Provide warning signs for wet floor areas.
• Create non-slip surfaces in slippery areas, such as toilet and shower areas, with no-skid wax.
• In carpeted areas, have carpets re-laid or stretched if they bulge or have become bunched.
• Provide floor outlets for equipment so that power cords do not need to run across pathways.
• When temporary electrical cords cross floors, tape or anchor them to the floor.
• Perform regular inspections to ensure floor surfaces are safe.
• Encourage employees to wear properly fitted, waterproof footgear to reduce slip and fall hazards.

We encourage all organizations to review the Patient Safety Plan and the EOC Safety Management Plan to ensure that all aspects related to a safe environment of care are in place including the prevention/reduction of slips, trips and falls.

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