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Focus on fall prevention can reduce serious injuries

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Hundreds of fall mishaps occur across the Air Force every year that result in thousands of lost work days. From 2012-2016, Air Force personnel were involved in almost 3,500 non-sports related falls, resulting in more than 42,000 lost days of work. More significantly, there were 13 fatalities during this same time

Air Force Occupational Safety will focus on the importance of life-saving fall prevention measures during Fall Prevention Focus, May 8 – 19, 2017, marking the fourth year the Air Force has partnered with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health to draw attention to fall prevention.

During this time, Air Force organizations are encouraged to conduct activities that raise awareness of fall prevention in the workplace, and at home.

“Most falls from heights result from non-compliance or inadequate training,” said Bill Parsons, the chief of Air Force Occupational Safety.

“It’s incumbent upon every Airman, supervisor, and senior leader to ensure our workforce is aware of all mishap prevention requirements, have the proper equipment to prevent falls, and know how to use that equipment properly,” Parsons said. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring Airmen are trained in accordance with AFI 91-203, Air Force Consolidated Safety Instruction.

Fall prevention awareness and training are generally focused on falls from heights due to the greater potential for serious injury or death. However, falls on even surfaces are much more common, according to Mike Eckert, the chief of Air Force Traffic Safety and Outreach.

“Fall-related injuries are more common on wet surfaces or stumbles in walkways,” Eckert said. “Most falls are preventable if we follow basic safety practices and maintain situational awareness.”

While not all Air Force organizations can set aside May 8 – 19 for Fall Prevention Focus, Parsons said it’s a good time to look at organizational safety programs and plan some time throughout the year to discuss fall prevention in the workplace and to draw attention to the need for compliance, training and awareness.

“We need to remind everyone that appropriate risk management and a little common sense can drastically reduce the number of injuries from slips, trips and falls,” Parsons said.

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