ACC issues alert to dangers at home

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2012

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Moss, power cords, carpets, chairs and puddles have all been singled out as potentially deadly hazards in ACC's annual home safety week starting today.

The Fight the 5 campaign gives tips on how to avoid turning everyday objects and obstacles into fall risks.

Injuries in and around the home are the biggest cause of ACC claims - accounting for more than 40 per cent of all new claims last year.

More than 280,000 home injuries happened because of falls, but it is not just the old and young who are suffering avoidable injuries, insurance and prevention services general manager John Beaglehole said.

People aged between 25 and 64 made up 40 per cent of all falls in the home last year and cost $160 million, including $67m in weekly compensation for injury-related loss of earnings.

“These are people who are home-makers, breadwinners and members of New Zealand's work force," Mr Beaglehole said.

"So an injury at home can have a huge impact on their family, their employer and the economy.”

Nearly half of all home injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls and in 2010 the estimated social and economic cost of all falls was $1.84 billion.

Each year, almost 10,000 people are off work for a week or more because of a fall and 2500 of those off work for more than three months.

Of the five fall triggers, slipping on wet floors was the most dangerous, resulting in 18,000 claims last year; climbing on chairs to reach a high object got 7500 claims, moss about 7000, rugs about 5000 and cords about 350.

“If you asked people to describe the most dangerous hazards in their house, things like unfastened mats or a power cord across the floor wouldn't necessarily spring to mind,” Mr Beaglehole said.

“But the fact is they cause a lot of injuries.”

Last year, Northland and Hawke's Bay were the most dangerous places for home-based falls.

ACC received injury claims for 5808 falls in Northland - 75 claims per 1000 people, and 5304 claims in Hawke's Bay - 69 claims per 1000 people.

The Wellington-Wairarapa region was at the safer end of the spectrum, claiming for 11,306 falls, or 44 claims per 1000 people - only the West Coast, Marlborough and Southland had fewer claims per capita.

The campaign uses cautionary stories from fall victims such as Wellington mother Kylie Gray, who was putting out the rubbish on a wet and windy spring night when she slipped and fell on wet tiles in her front doorway while wearing jandals.

She spent seven months in a brace and eight months off work after pulling ligaments, dislocating her knee and damaging her shinbone.

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Her injuries meant she could not properly care for her infant son.

“I couldn't drive or do the shopping but worst of all, I couldn't fully care for Cooper,” she said.

Safety at home has become a priority since the accident - rain through the front door is now forbidden and wet floors are covered or dried.

She is especially careful when getting out of the shower and never wears jandals when it is wet.

There were 630,000 injuries in or around the home last year.

Falls were the leading category, responsible for 280,000 claims with fall-related injuries costing $272m.

- The Dominion Post

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