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Study examines characteristics of same-level falls

March 13, 2013

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Blacksburg, VA – Falls on the same level result in injuries more than twice as often as falls to a lower level, according to a new study from Virginia Tech.

Researchers used 2006-2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to analyze fall characteristics and found that falls increased during that period even as the overall number of workplace injuries requiring days away from work decreased. In particular, the percentage of injuries from falls to the same level increased to 15 percent in 2010 from 12.8 percent in 2006, leading researchers to estimate falls to the same level account for 14 percent of all occupational injuries.

Specifically looking at falls on the same level, researchers found workers’ compensation costs increased 25 percent from 2006 to 2009. Additionally, more than 29 percent of same-level fall injuries resulted in 31 or more lost workdays. Falls on the same level primarily involved floors, walkways or ground surfaces, and the risk was higher in the health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food services industries, the study abstract states.

The risk for same-level falls was higher for females and older workers. Researchers recommended educating older workers on awareness of their physical and cognitive limitations, and advised employers to adjust work environments to reduce fall risks.

The study was published in the February issue of the journal Ergonomics.

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