Injury and Safety

Chief among the goals of Public and Environmental Health is a reduction of accidents and injuries, particularly the rate of hospitalization among children age 0 to 19 years primarily from motor vehicle and sports-related injuries. Helmet use, construction safety, teen driving habits, and substance abuse are directly correlated to accident and injury rates.

When reviewing county hospitalization, accident and injury data, the leading cause of accidents and injuries in the county is from falls (skiing and snowboard falls are included in these numbers). That said, many unintentional injuries occur as a result of falling from stairs, bicycles, ladders, buildings, furniture, and a large number occur as a result of slipping, tripping or stumbling. It is important that county residents use good prevention behaviors because of our long winters of ice and snow, a high number of employees in the construction industry, participation in high-risk recreational sports, and a growing senior population.

There is much we can do, regardless of age or geography to reduce painful, expensive accidents and injuries caused by falls. Falls are categorized as elevated or same-level falls and most frequently result in injury to the back. Slips are primarily caused by slippery surfaces and compounded by wearing the wrong footwear. "Good housekeeping" in the work and home environment, adequate lighting, non-obstructed walking areas, slip-resistant footwear, use of handrails and safety/sports helmets and proper placement and use of ladders are good prevention measures. Higher accident rates are associated with "extra" riders carried on recreation vehicles, tractors, and equipment.

A simple fall, slip or trip seems unimportant, yet these more frequently-occurring accidents may cause disabling injuries whose average direct cost can approach $28,000. According to the National Safety Council, there are 110,000 injuries each year to the feet and toes alone of US workers, representing nearly 20% of all disabling work injuries. Falls continue to be the leading cause of injury, hospitalization, and death for people 85 years and older.