Waikato rates highly for home accidents

Waikato is shaping up as one of the most dangerous regions when it comes to falls in the home, ACC figures show.

More than 12,000 Waikato people aged 25-64 years made a claim to ACC due to an injury sustained in the home, a rate of 61 claims for every 1000 people in the region.

Only Northland and Hawke’s Bay did worse, with 75 and 69 claims per 1000 respectively.

Auckland is eighth with 50 claims per 1000 and Marlborough is the lowest with 33 claims per 1000.

The data release coincides with Home Safety Action Week, and John Beaglehole from ACC’s Insurance and Prevention Services is calling for people to take simple steps to remove hazards from the home.

“We are asking Kiwis to fight five common hazards to reduce the risk of injury at home,” he said.

Hazards include slippery moss, unfastened rugs, loose power cords, floor spills and standing on chairs.

The most common category of injury related to home falls is soft tissue injuries, such as bruises, strains and sprains, followed by fractures and dislocations.

There were over 280,000 fall injuries in homes across the country, accounting for 40 per cent of all new claims received in 2011 and Mr Beaglehole said they could have a big impact.

“An injury can completely change your life for a while. It can stop you from doing the things you enjoy, like catching up with friends or playing with your children,” he said.

Hamilton man Tipene Wilson shares ACC’s concerns. In 2008 he was working on the roof of his mother in-law’s house when he fell backward and landed on the back of his neck, with his shoulders bearing the brunt of the fall.

“I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t breath,” said Mr Wilson. “It changed my life forever.”

Mr Wilson suffered a spinal fracture requiring surgery and bruising to his spinal cord causing paralysis.

He spent eight weeks recovering in Waikato hospital and can walk and function on his own but still suffers a number of long-term effects.

“There is still numbness and pain and mobility issues because of the nature of the injury. The long-term effect is that my chest and lower arms are hyper-sensitive, especially in my forearms.”

He lost his sense of balance and his confidence was low but his accident had also had a major affect on everyone around him.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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