Slips and falls are a leading cause of injury and death, especially among older people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an older adult falls every second of every day in the United States. In 2014 alone, elderly people suffered 29 million slips and falls.
Slips and falls are also a major source of injury for younger people. Although many people associate slips and falls with puddles of liquid in a grocery store, or a slippery sidewalk, falls in the home happen just as often.
Falls can also cause more than just a few bumps or bruises. The CDC reports that one out of five slips and falls causes a broken bone or head injury. Falls are also the most common source of traumatic brain injuries. Falls are also extremely costly. Each year, slips and falls cost $31 billion.
Common Reasons for Slips and Falls
Slips and falls can happen for a variety of reasons, from simply losing your footing to tripping over an electrical cord stretched across a hallway or office cubicle. However they happen, it’s important to recognize the serious injuries that can occur due to a slip and fall. Here are just a few reasons why people slip and fall:
- Cracked or broken pavement
- Ice and snow
- Wet floors
- Debris in a path or walkway, such as a hallway or sidewalk
- Worn or loose carpet and floor boarding
Worn and loose carpet can be a hazard at home or in the workplace. Worn or loose carpet or floor boarding can also appear in an apartment building, store, or office building. Anywhere an area receives a lot of foot traffic, there is always a chance that a worn or loose piece of carpet or floor boarding will cause a slip and fall.
Injuries Caused by Worn Carpet and Floor Boarding
Research published in the Journal of Injury and Violence Research reveals just how dangerous it can be for a home, workplace, or store to have loose or worn carpet or floor boarding. According to researchers, “loose throw rugs and area carpets with curled edges or folds are among the extrinsic factors most frequently mentioned in the literature as unsafe and potentially increasing fall risk.”
One study of environmental hazards in homes showed that 78 percent had loose throw rugs and 35 percent had curled carpet edges. In the study, the risk of a slip and fall due to worn or loose carpet and floor boarding was higher among the elderly.
People who slip and fall because of worn carpet and floor boarding can suffer a number of serious and debilitating injuries, including broken bones, fractured hips, traumatic brain injuries, and injuries to the neck, back, and spine. Among older adults, one fall significantly increases a person’s chance of suffering subsequent falls.
Preventing Slips and Falls Caused by Worn Carpet and Floor Boarding
There are a number of steps workplaces and individuals can take to reduce the risk of a slip and fall caused by worn carpet and floor boarding.
- Install the Right Kind of Carpet – Carpet styles change every few years. Some people might remember the shag carpet craze that dominated the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, longer pile carpet has made something of a comeback in recent years. However, flooring safety experts say it’s best to choose a carpet with a short, dense pile. This provides comfort and cushion without being a tripping hazard. It’s also more durable, which means it won’t wear out as fast.
- Secure Rugs – Loose rugs and throw rugs may be stylish, but they can also be major slip and fall hazards. If you’re going to use a throw rug, try to secure it to the ground. You can buy special double-sided tape that prevents the edges from curling up.
- Use Non-Slip Backing – It’s also a good idea to buy rugs that include a non-slip backing, or to purchase a non-slip mat to place beneath rugs that don’t have it.
- Keep Exits and Hallways Open – Avoid using rugs or loose carpeting in exits and hallways. If possible, keep them open and easy to access.
- Use Adequate Lighting – Dim lighting makes a slip and fall more likely to occur. Ensure that building interiors are brightly lit, and use nightlights to provide illumination at night.
- Install Handrails – Handrails should be installed in any stairway, especially in stairwells that are carpeted.
- Keep Stairs in Good Repair – Additionally, inspect stairs and treads and make any necessary repairs as needed.
- Inspect Carpeting and Floor Boarding – Carpets and floor boards that are well-maintained can last for years, but they don’t last forever. Keep carpets clean and hazard-free, and make sure to replace worn and loose carpets and floor boards to ensure they remain free of tripping and slipping hazards.
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