Ice Slips and Falls
Ice Slips and Falls
Be honest! When we see someone slipping on ice or snow most of us initially have a laugh - it's a bit like seeing a clown slipping on a banana skin at the circus, flailing arms, funny faces...that is until the full reality hits home - often breaks, fractures, hospitalisation and incapacity.
The Elderly are Particularly Vulnerable
According to the National Center For Injury Prevention and Control in the USA:
• In the United States, one of every three adults 65 years old or older falls each year.
• Falls are the leading cause of injury & deaths among people 65 years and older.
• In 1998, about 9,600 people over the age of 65 died from fall-related injuries.
• Among older adults, falls are the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for traumas
• Falls account for 87% of all fractures for people 65 years and older.
• They are also the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury among other adults.
• Each year in the United States, one person in 20 receives emergency treatment because of a fall. Among older adults, fractures are the most serious health outcomes associated with falls.
• About 3% of all falls cause fractures. The most common are fractures of the pelvis, hip, femur, vertebrae, humerus, hand, forearm, leg and ankle
What's the picture in the UK?
The picture in the UK follows a similar trend. Hospitalisation due to falls on ice & snow statistics are captured by various hospitals at accident and emergency (A&E) departments and are published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, who compile information for the National Health Service. Here are some figures for 2008 - 2009:
• 7,832 patients specifically reported as 'falling on the same level involving ice and snow'
• 98% required hospital admission
• Resulting in 29,952 bed days
• Single biggest percentage of patients was 60 - 74 years of age
• Surprisingly 47% were aged between 15 - 59 years of age.
Figures recently published for the 'big freeze' winter of 2009-2010 make even worse reading because hospitalisations increased dramatically putting operational stress on the NHS and considerably increasing costs:
• 18,565 patients hospitalised as a direct result of slipping on ice & snow
• Resulting in 70,674 bed days
• Estimate cost to the NHS and taxpayer between £7.5 - 15.0 million per annum
Impact on Industry?
When considering the impact on industry, the statistics are no laughing matter! They paint quite a sobering picture, as they have a considerable cost impact. Although no specific statistics are collated for the UK, according to the National Safety Council in the USA the total cost for each lost workday was $34,000. This figure may seem unbelievable! But when workers compensation, medical costs, lost/decreased productivity, administrative costs, replacement hiring, managerial costs and slowed work pace due to other employee fear of injury are all factored, it seems to be more plausible.
Many UK based readers of this article will say "..but we don't have such severe winters in the UK as the USA, do we?". But, when the data and statistics are analysed it suggests the fickle British weather throws up different challenges.
One of the unique things about UK weather is that it can be very localised. Most years the UK has some snow, somewhere. However most people suffer from 'selective memory' only remembering the nationwide 'big freezes' such as 2010 - because of the media exposure they generate. Even areas that do not have any snow can have severe icy spells making walking conditions difficult.
It's important to remember that most of the UK sits at a latitude of between 54 00 N (South Coast of England) and 57 00 N (North Coast of Scotland). Sharing the same latitude as Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, or Central Poland where they have huge amounts of snow and significant sub zero temperatures each year. A slight shift in the wind direction and pressure systems can quickly subject most areas of the UK to similar conditions, as witnessed in 2009- 2010.
The 'extreme' temperature records from the UK Meteorological Office bear this out:
• Lowest daily UK temperature records
Scotland: -27.2 °C, recorded on 11 February 1895, 10 January 1982 and on 30 December 1995, at Braemar (Aberdeenshire) and Altnaharra (Highland)
• England: -26.1°C, recorded on 10 January 1982 at Newport (Shropshire)
• Wales: -23.3 °C, recorded on 21 January 1940 at Rhayader (Powys)
• Northern Ireland: -17.5 °C, recorded on 1 January 1979 at Magherally (County Down)
The conclusion to be drawn is that citizens living in the UK need to be prepared. Having the correct clothing, footwear and icegripper equipment to hand is vital, if you want to continue a normal rotutine, avoiding injury and financial impact.
Walk, work, run and play on winter ice and snow with ICEGRIPPER