COLUMBUS - As shoppers get out and about this holiday shopping season, crowded, busy stores can create hazardous situations for all Ohioans, but particularly for older adults, who may be at an increased risk for falls and fall-related injuries. To safeguard customers and employees, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Golden Buckeye Program have joined the state's new falls prevention initiative, STEADY U Ohio, to provide education and resources to retailers to make their businesses "fall-free zones."
"When staff or customers fall, it doesn't just hurt the individual, it hurts the retailer's reputation and their bottom line," said Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates STEADY U and Golden Buckeye. "Most falls are preventable, but it will take a community approach, every day and everywhere. We're proud to have the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants as an ally in combating the epidemic of falls among our Golden Buckeyes."
Falls are the number one cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among adults age 65 and older.
"We know that every retailer in Ohio wants to create a safe and pleasant environment for their customers and staff," said Lora L. Miller, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. "Our partnership with STEADY U Ohio will help us provide our members with information, tools and resources to safeguard every person who walks through their doors."
For the holiday shopping season, the STEADY U Ohio website (www.steadyu.ohio.gov) features tips and resources for retailers. Advice includes:
- Create a falls prevention policy and make sure your employees know and understand it.
- Identify issues with flooring, stairs, lighting and housekeeping that could cause accidents.
- Have staff regularly monitor aisles for items that have fallen off shelves and are blocking.
- Provide seating around your business, particularly in areas where customers may have to wait during busy times.
- When it's snowy or icy, extend sales or offer shopping options for older customers.
- Empower staff to offer assistance to customers who appear to be having trouble getting around.
Similarly, STEADY U encourages shoppers and employees to keep their eyes open and notify staff about slipping and tripping hazards, including:
- Slippery floors, spills and loose rugs or mats;
- Unsafe sidewalks, ramps or stairs;
- Lighting that is too dim or too bright and causes glare;
- Items blocking aisles;
- Displays that block your view of other shoppers and obstacles; and
- Anybody who is behaving in an unsafe manner.
If you fall in a retail establishment, notify management right away so that they can document the incident and take steps to prevent future accidents.
About the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants - The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants has been serving the interests of Ohio's retail and wholesale industries since 1922. Our 4,400-plus members rely on the expertise and passion of the Council leadership to promote and support initiatives that pave a positive path for the state's retail community. Visit www.ocrm.net.
About Golden Buckeye - Established in 1976 and operated by the Ohio Department of Aging, the Golden Buckeye Card Program is open to more than 2 million Ohio residents, and 20,000 businesses statewide participate in it. All Ohioans 60 or older, and as adults 18 through 59 who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye card. Visit www.GoldenBuckeye.com.
About STEADY U Ohio - Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
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