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Falling at work could mean broken bones and lost wages

Whether you go up and down the ladder at a construction site or simply have to climb a set of stairs to reach your office every day, elevations at work create a risk for falling. Most healthy adults won't think much of their risk for a fall at work. After all, the average fall results in a little more than a bump or a bruise.

However, falls are a major risk factor in various work environments. Also, the older you get, the greater the risk that a fall poses for your overall well-being. For adults getting close to retirement age, a fall at work could be the difference between securing your full retirement and needing to change your line of work.

Workers' compensation benefits are often available to those who wind up hurt because of a fall on the job. Those benefits can also help you if you have to change your career path because of the injury. Still, avoiding a fall is the best option, and understanding the risks can help you do that.

Several factors influence the likelihood of a fracture after a fall

Anyone can slip or fall at any age, but older adults are at greater risk for serious injury from a fall. That increased risk stems from one of the three contributing factors to the likelihood of a broken bone in a fall event.

The density of the bones in the individual who falls will determine whether the amount of force from the fall is sufficient to produce a fracture. Calcium absorption decreases with age, which usually results in decreased bone density over time.

A fall from a ladder could result in a fracture even in a healthy young adult, while a fall from a standing position on the ground is more likely to produce a fracture in someone with reduced bone density. The amount of force involved will also influence the likelihood of a break. The farther and faster you fall, the more force there will be upon impact.

You may not be able to resume your job after a broken bone

Just about everyone already knows that bones will heal over time provided that they are properly set and immobilized during recovery. Unfortunately, just because it heals doesn't mean there won't be any consequences.

Many people experience reduced strength and range of motion in a limb after a fracture. Those symptoms could affect your ability to continue performing your job. It is also possible for a broken bone to cause nerve damage that may become permanent. Conditions like complex regional pain syndrome can continue to affect you for the rest of your life even after the bone has fully healed.

When an injury leaves you unable to work temporarily while it heals or permanently due to side effects of the injury, workers' compensation can help you cover both the medical costs and the lost or reduced wages that will impact your life as a result of your injury.

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