Ehstoday 3364 Snowyfence

Off-the-Job Safety: Tis the Season for Slips and Falls

Dec. 16, 2013
Exercise physiologist Mike Ross offers tips to stay upright this winter.

Slips and falls aren't just a workplace-safety issue. Approximately 1 million people slip and fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 20,000 of them die due to fall-related injuries.

The odds of falling increase as we age – and certainly aren't helped by icy sidewalks and slippery parking lots during the winter months. Still, exercise physiologist Mike Ross asserts that there are measures we can take to stay upright when the conditions seem to be working against us.

"Many falls can be successfully avoided or the impact minimized by applying a few basic strategies," says Ross, author of "The Balance Manual" and exercise physiologist at the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, part of the Loyola University Health System. "Balance deteriorates as we get older due to the weakening of muscles and change in sensory perception, especially in the ear structure."

The inner ear and the brain play an important role in our equilibrium, or balance.

"As we age, our eardrums often thicken and the bones of the middle ear and other structures are affected. It often becomes increasingly difficult to maintain balance," Ross explains. "Aging also breaks down cells in the nervous system, which can often result in a delay in reflexes that can lead to susceptibility to injury."

Ross offers these tips to prevent winter slips and falls:

  • Check your footwear. Examine your shoes and boots. How's the traction? Better traction can help keep you more stable on icy surfaces.
  • Keep a shovel and salt in your house. The reason you have a shovel and salt is so you don't have to walk on a slippery sidewalk. Having them in the garage defeats the purpose.
  • Check the railings. If you have railings leading up to your front door, check to see if they're sturdy. Would they support you if you slipped?
  • Bring a cell phone when you leave the house. If you fall, it can sometimes be hard to get up. Carrying a cell phone whenever you go out can bring peace of mind.
  • Slow down. Allow extra time if it's slippery out. Keep in mind that being a little late is better than rushing and causing a fall.
  • Strengthen your legs. Strong leg muscles can help you steady yourself if you slip. And if you do fall, they make it a lot easier to get back up. You should exercise your legs regularly to keep them strong. Try walking up and down your stairs repeatedly or doing a set of 10 squats out of a chair a couple of times per week.

Sponsored Recommendations

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

March 28, 2024
ISO 45001 certification – reduce your organizational risk and promote occupational health and safety (OHS) by working with SGS to achieve certification or migrate to the new standard...

Want to Verify your GHG Emissions Inventory?

March 28, 2024
With the increased focus on climate change, measuring your organization’s carbon footprint is an important first action step. Our Green House Gas (GHG) verification services provide...

Download Free ESG White Paper

March 28, 2024
The Rise and Challenges of ESG – Your Journey to Enhanced Sustainability, Brand and Investor Potential

Work Safety Tips: 5 Tactics to Build Employee Engagement for Workplace Safety

March 13, 2024
Employee safety engagement strategies have become increasingly key to fostering a safer workplace environment. But, how exactly do you encourage employee buy-in when it comes ...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!