In 2012, researchers did a study of fall injuries to better understand the impact of blunt force trauma on accident victims. Their results give us insight into what kinds of falls are most dangerous, what types of injuries are common to falls at certain heights, and what workplaces need to do to keep their employees safe when they’re working at a height.
The study found that the injuries a person might sustain in a fall will depend on multiple factors:
- Conditions affecting how someone lands
- How firm or unforgiving the ground is
- The height of the fall (of course)
Falls from Small Heights Can Still Be Life-Changing
One of the surprising findings of the study was that landing on your head or upper body could cause catastrophic injury from even a small height. Skull and spine fractures were found in falls from as low as three feet high onto concrete. The same injuries were found in people who fell from 10 feet onto hard soil. If someone fell onto their torso from about seven feet, it led to multiple rib fractures and even some liver damage.
However, once researchers examined falls from heights of 20 feet or more, how someone landed became less and less decisive. For instance, a fall from 15 feet onto a hard surface often resulted in broken bones regardless of how the victim landed. Falling from 20 feet or more often resulted in spleen and kidney damage.
The Most Common Fall-Related Injuries
When we look at fall injuries as a whole, certain patterns emerge: For instance, of the serious fall cases used for the study, over half were immediately fatal. The most common cause of death in these cases was head injury. For survivors, the most common fall injury was bone fractures, followed by liver damage and spleen damage. Falls on hard surfaces typically cause damage to multiple organs.
The researchers concluded with what many workers and workplace safety advocates know already: the most common risk factor for fatal falls is poor safety. Every workplace fall is preventable. The fatal fall rate is simply a question of how much an employer is willing to invest to keep employees safe.
If an employer failed to keep you or a loved one safe, speak with our work accident lawyers at (888) 493-1629. We can discuss your options in a free consultation.