Three easy steps to avoid slips, trips and falls

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • Safety Office, 88th Air Base Wing

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Every year, people are injured as a result of falling while walking, jogging or running — especially during winter periods when traction tends to deteriorate.

The military and civilian personnel of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are no exception.

Throughout the animal kingdom, we are the only mammal made to operate on two feet. Others may stand upright and even walk or run for brief distances, but they certainly don’t tend to. What they tend to do is move with infinitely greater speed, agility and stability than us.

Because of this numerical advantage at any given time, even the most ponderous four-legged mammals just don’t seem to fall down with the monotonous regularity we humans do.

It’s a wonder we can do such a complicated, athletic thing at all considering:

  • Our center of balance is extremely high. The balance required just to stand up takes us months to learn.
  • In the full-upright position, our field of view is directed outward rather than downward.
  • The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in both feet combined make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body — a pretty complex foundation.

Amazingly, we generally offset these locomotional challenges and are able to go on our two-legged way without mishap. When we fail to, however, it can cause tremendous injury.

To avoid mishaps associated with slips, trips and falls, your strategy must include awareness, sound judgment and proper equipment:

Know what to expect

Awareness of weather conditions and the terrain we’ll encounter can go a very long way toward preparing us for safe travel.

Take the safest route

Avoid walking on any slippery surface. In bad weather, many facilities use a primary entrance that is the best maintained. Use careful judgment in selecting your travel route.

Use the right footwear for conditions

If conditions make it necessary to use one pair of footwear for work and another to travel to and from home safely, it’s worth the investment.

Finally, our best defense against sustaining a fall this season may simply be the greater focus we can apply to safe travel. Commanders, supervisors, safety representatives and co-workers all play an important role by ensuring safety remains our primary focus.