A fall from height can be a traumatic situation for everyone involved, with injuries ranging from sprains and strains to those needing immediate hospital care.
While we all hope that our loved ones nor we are ever involved in this type of accident, understanding the potential risks and how to avoid them is important for everyone.
The Five Most Common Injuries
1. Sprains and strains
While sprains and strains may sound relatively minor, they can actually be quite serious. A sprain is a tear in a ligament, while a strain is a tear in a muscle or tendon. Both can lead to severe pain, swelling, and bruising.
Treatment for sprains and strains
This usually includes rest, ice, and elevation. More serious injuries may require physical therapy or even surgery.
Recovery time for sprains and strains is usually 4-6 weeks.
Fractures are one of the most common injuries from falls. They can occur in any bone but are especially common in the wrists, ankles, and hips. The difference between a fracture and a break is that a fracture is a crack or partial break, while a break is where the bone is completely broken. Symptoms of a fracture include severe pain, swelling, and bruising.
Treatment for fractures
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury but typically includes immobilization with a cast or splint, followed by physical therapy to regain strength and mobility.
Recovery time for fractures also depends on the severity of the injury but can range from several weeks to several months.
Dislocations occur when a joint is forced out of its normal position. This can be extremely painful and may cause swelling, bruising, and numbness. Dislocations are most common in the shoulders, elbows, and knees. In some situations, a relative or colleague can take the injured party to the hospital. However, a dislocated neck in a fall at work or at home is something that requires immediate paramedic attention and specialized ambulance transport for hospital care.
Treatment for dislocations
Dislocations must be treated by a medical professional. The joint will be put back into place and immobilized. Surgery is sometimes required for dislocations, especially if there is damage to the ligaments or bones.
Recovery time for a dislocation is typically 4-6 weeks.
4. Head injuries
Head injuries are extremely serious and can even be fatal. They are often caused by falling onto a hard surface or hitting your head on something during the fall. Symptoms of a head injury include dizziness, headache, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
A concussion is a type of head injury that is caused by a blow to the head. Concussions can range from mild to severe and can cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Treatment for concussions
Concussions must be treated by a medical professional. Most people will need to rest and avoid any activity that could worsen their symptoms. More severe concussions may require hospitalization.
Recovery time for a concussion is typically 2-4 weeks.
5. Neck injuries
Neck injuries are also extremely serious and can be fatal. They often occur when the head is suddenly jerked forward or backward in a fall. Symptoms of a neck injury include pain, stiffness, and numbness.
Treatment for head injuries
Minor head injuries can be treated at home with rest and over-the-counter pain medication. However, a careful watch is needed over the person suffering the injury, and you should always err on the side of caution by getting medical advice as soon as possible. More severe injuries may require hospitalization and surgery.
Recovery time for head injuries will depend on the severity of the damage.
Preventing Falls from Height
There are a few things you can do to prevent falls from happening in the first place.
- Wearing proper safety gear, such as a hard hat and safety harness, is important when working at heights.
- Complete a risk assessment before starting any work to identify potential hazards.
- Where it is necessary for someone to work at height, there should always be someone else on the ground to act as a spotter and warn of any potential risks.
- Keeping your work area clean and clutter-free can also help reduce the risk of falls.
- Lastly, always be sure to use caution when working at height, whether at home or at work, and never take unnecessary risks.
Employers’ Responsibilities for Safety At Work
Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees while at work. This includes ensuring that proper safety gear is worn, that the work area is clean and free of clutter, and that employees are properly trained in how to work safely at height.
In the event of a fall, employers are also responsible for ensuring that medical help is sought immediately and that the injured employee receives the proper care and treatment.
Compensation Following a Fall At Height
If you have been injured in a fall from a height, you may be entitled to compensation. For your claim to be successful, you will need to start your claim within three years of the accident taking place and be able to show that –
- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant in the case
- Because of their negligence, that was an accident
- And, because of that accident, you suffered an injury.
While you could consider undertaking the claim yourself, the legal sector is rarely straightforward, and the misfiling of paperwork or incorrect wording could jeopardize your compensation payment.
Most legal practices specializing in accident compensation claims offer free initial advice to help you consider if your claim is likely successful. If they feel that there is a good likelihood of success, they may offer to take on your case on a no-win-no-fee basis, meaning that you don’t have to worry about legal fees.