ACC community injury prevention consultant Andy Redfearn is
keen to highlight the risk of falls at home, including over
the Christmas and new year holidays. Photo by Gregor
A big increase in injuries caused by falls at Dunedin
homes is ''disturbing'' and more must be done to reduce them,
ACC campaigner Denise Powell says.
ACC home fall injury claims throughout Otago in all age
groups increased about 12% in the financial year ending June
And in 2011, such claims by working-age people increased
about 19% in Dunedin, up 546 to 3375, from the year before.
Throughout Otago such falls increased about 18%, to 5869,
also among people aged 25 to 64, that year.
Injuries at home are the biggest cause of ACC claims, costing
ACC $272 million in 2011.
ACC statistics also show 64 working-age people died from
falls at home in Otago over the five years to June 30 last
year - averaging more than one death a month, and a high
proportion, apparently, in the greater Dunedin area.
Nine Otago people died from such injuries in the year to June
last year. Nationally, more than 1340 people died in home
falls over the five years.
Dr Powell, who is president of Acclaim Otago, an ACC claimant
support group, said more resources, including more television
awareness-raising campaigns, should be devoted to cutting the
Any cuts, such as to funding for programmes to reduce falls
among older people, were ''false economy'', she said.
The biggest percentage rise in such injury claims in Otago
districts in 2011 was in Clutha, up more than 21% (to 472).
There was a rise of about 16% in the Queenstown-Lakes
district (to 1080); and smaller rises in Central Otago (11%,
to 553) and Waitaki (12%, 389).
Psychology plays a major role in home injury accidents,
Dunedin-based ACC community injury prevention consultant Andy
Redfearn points out.
A national survey showed that while people believed there was
a substantial general risk of injuries at home, they believed
their own personal accident risk was much lower.
Mr Redfearn, who has spoken to many neighbourhood watch
groups about the issue, said the fall-related deaths and
serious injuries were an ''absolute tragedy'' and also had
wider adverse effects on families.
Most home-related fall injuries in Dunedin and Otago happened
outside the house such as when using ladders to clear leaves
Ice was a bigger winter risk factor in Dunedin than in more
northern areas, but increased ladder usage in summer, such as
for hedge cutting, also increased risks.
Taking a few simple measures - including clearing moss from
paths and decks- greatly reduced the risk.
''We underestimate our risk and underestimate the effect that
a minor or moderate injury can have on our everyday lives.''
Reducing the risks
• Remove moss from paths.
• Secure power cords.
• Fasten rugs and mats.
• Avoid using chairs as ladders.
• Wipe up spills.