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Stairs

We attended a 39 year old man who was carrying some boxes down the stairs. His visibility was limited, and as he went down the stairs, he missed a step. Down he went and rolled down the remaining 5 stairs. He received a serious head injury, as well as a compound fracture in his right ankle (the bone was sticking through the skin). He needed surgery and was not able to go back to his job for 8 weeks.

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Situational Awareness

A man was going to take a picture of his family at a lookout point along the highway in a national park. He lined the family up and started to back up to get the shot. He hopped a fence so he could get a better picture and continued to back up. He went too far and fell down a steep embankment, sustaining injuries that would keep him off work for at least a couple of weeks. I’m sure he will remember that picture for a very long time.

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Ladders

I attended a man who had been building a garage. He had climbed the ladder onto the garage roof to nail shingles in place. The roof was about 9 feet high. As he stepped from the ladder onto the roof with his right foot, he stepped on some plastic that was on the roof. His foot slipped, and he fell feet first onto the ground. When he landed, he heard a loud crack. When we arrived with the ambulance, his leg was bent at 90 degree angle, 3 inches below his knee. It was a very nasty break.

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Don’t Walk or Step Where Your Eyes Haven’t Been

I think this is about the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard to prevent slips, trips and falls – NEVER WALK OR STEP WHERE YOUR EYES HAVEN’T ALREADY BEEN. People get hurt when they don’t watch where they are going. This isn’t rocket science. If you step blindly, you could get yourself into trouble. I’m sure it’s happened to you at one time or another. You were not watching where you were going or your mind was somewhere else, and: • You didn’t see the patch of ice you stepped on that caused your feet to shoot out from under you. • You misjudged the last step coming down a flight of stairs and broke your ankle. • You didn’t notice the uneven ground surface, which caused you to twist your ankle and fall forwards. All of these situations can be prevented if you’re looking where you’re going, and I don’t mean just looking, but actually seeing and comprehending what you are looking at. Not stepping where your eyes haven’t already been is a life-prolonging skill. People have died because they didn’t notice the end of the curb and stumbled forward off it, falling forward into an oncoming bus – not a good situation to find yourself in. This is vitally important when you are climbing up or down ladders, step stools, stairs, scaffolding, trucks, machinery or any other apparatus. Missing a step can cause you to fall. It’s as simple as that.

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Same Level Falls

During 24 years of working in Emergency Services, the following was one of the worst broken legs I’ve ever seen. A 45 year old woman was walking at a quick pace to answer the door. She had ordered a pizza, and the delivery man was there.

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It’s Up to the Other Guy Too

A 19 year old man was going to visit a farmer’s market with his two sisters, ages 8 and 10 years. The highway they were on was foggy, so the brother was driving below the speed limit. A driver approaching them in the opposite lane decided the vehicle in front of him was going too slow. Even though the visibility was poor, he decided to pass anyway. The resulting head-on collision killed these two beautiful girls. The brother survived. The driver who caused the crash was uninjured.

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Emergency Procedures are There for a Reason

Most organizations have emergency procedures in place for when things go bad. That’s because when things go bad, they can go very bad, very fast. Many people think that emergency procedures are to be put in a binder and stored on a shelf, never again to be seen by human eyes, of course until it’s time to update them. This is the case in some organizations. Remember when you were in elementary school and the fire alarm went off? Remember how fast and efficiently everyone would leave the school? The system worked. It was put in place and practiced, and it worked. So can emergency procedures at workplaces. When an emergency happens, it can be difficult to think clearly. I know some people who have called for an ambulance in an emergency situation and couldn’t remember their own address, even though they had lived there for 20 years. Your adrenaline can go through the roof in an emergency. Emergency procedures, (if you remember to use and follow them) will help you do the right thing when others around you are losing their heads. Know what your part is in an emergency. If you don’t know what to do, follow people who do know. I do a lot of speaking at different plants. As soon as I arrive, I get a safety introduction to the plant. They tell me what I should do and where I should go in the event of an emergency. They may also tell me who I should follow in an emergency. This is important information, and you can bet your house on it… I am paying attention, because when things go bad, they can get really bad, really fast.

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Are You Ready for an Emergency

This article is written to get you thinking, nothing else. I have attended a lot of emergencies and I can tell you this – the people who were prepared for an emergency fared much better than the ones who weren’t prepared. Children and adults have died because they weren’t prepared, so please think about the following. If emergencies happened only when you expected and were prepared for them, they wouldn’t be emergencies.

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Pay Attention to Warning Signs

I was speaking to a group of safety professionals at a conference and since it was early December, I talked about the number of people who are injured every year from falling off stepladders while putting up their outside Christmas lights. After my talk, two safety professionals came up and quietly told me how they had both become injured in the same way. One of them admitted he had actually been standing on the ‘THIS IS NOT A STEP’ warning (how many times have you done this?). He lost his balance and fell, knocking himself unconscious. He would have frozen to death if the neighbor’s child hadn’t gone home and asked his mother why Mr. Smith was sleeping on the sidewalk.

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