One of the most deadly injuries a worker can suffer on the job is a fall from height. The higher the height, the more deadly the fall. Falls from 100 feet or more are almost universally fatal except for some notable exceptions where the victims lived. Most of those rare survival stories were due to an unusually soft landing on snowdrifts or newly tilled earth. In some cases, the velocity of their falls was reduced by other factors that aided in their survival.
Worldwide, 420,000 individuals die from falls, making falls the number two cause of death, exceeded only by car accident fatalities. Here in the United States, there are 32,000 deaths attributed to falls each year.
Even low falls are deadly
But falls don't have to be from great height to cause severe injuries or deaths. The risk rises for those 61 and older. Thirty percent of those senior citizens older than 64 who live in senior housing fall annually. There is a marked uptick in those older than 80, with fully half falling at least once and 30% of those victims suffering injuries from taking a tumble.
Can you mitigate the damage from a fall?
According to research by the Yale School of Medicine that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the outcome of a fall is determined, in part, by the victim's preparation for a potential fall, their actions mid-fall and the surface area they hit. Another major factor is the physical condition the injured person was in prior to their fall. Those already struggling with health problems are more likely to suffer serious injuries. Poor nutrition can also affect senior citizens' risk of falls and their outcome.
What can you do after a fall?
Obviously, the first thing you should do after falling is seek medical attention. This is especially true in cases where victims suffer head injuries, as some traumatic brain injuries cause bleeding in the brain that can quickly prove to be lethal. But all fall victims should be assessed by a medical professional.
Seeking immediate medical aid also establishes a paper trail linking your injuries to the fall event. If you fall at work, that could bolster any potential workers' compensation claim that might arise from the incident.
In other circumstances, such as a fall in a hospital or senior living center, your medical records documenting your fall could form the basis of a premises liability lawsuit if the conditions of the facility caused or contributed to your fall and subsequent injuries.