Occupational and environmental risk factors for falls among workers in the healthcare sector

Ergonomics. 2010 Apr;53(4):525-36. doi: 10.1080/00140130903528178.


Falls are a leading cause of occupational injury for workers in healthcare, yet the risk factors of falls in this sector are understudied. Falls resulting in workers' compensation for time-loss from work from 2004-2007 for healthcare workers in British Columbia (BC) were extracted from a standardised incident-reporting database. Productive hours were derived from payroll data for the denominator to produce injury rates; relative risks were derived through Poisson regression modelling. A total of 411 falls were accepted for time-loss compensation. Compared to registered nurses, facility support workers (risk ratio (95% CI) = 6.29 (4.56-8.69)) and community health workers (6.58 (3.76-11.50)) were at high risk for falls. Falls predominantly occurred outdoors, in patients' rooms and kitchens depending on occupation and sub-sector. Slippery surfaces due to icy conditions or liquid contaminants were a leading contributing factor. Falls were more frequent in the colder months (January-March). The risk of falls varies by nature of work, location and worker demographics. The findings of this research will be useful for developing evidence-based interventions. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: Falls are a major cause of occupational injury for healthcare workers. This study examined risk factors including occupation type, workplace design, work setting, work organisation and environmental conditions in a large healthcare worker population in BC, Canada. The findings of this research should contribute towards developing evidence-based interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Departments / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Sex Factors
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data