Gravity has a lot to account for, including claims that cost the ACC $272m last year

Gravity has an inevitable effect on people who slip, trip, stumble or lose their balance.

It brings them down to earth – or towards it – and their journey ends with a jolt when they hit the ground or whatever might interrupt their downwards journey.

It happens often.

More than 261,000 people were injured in falls at home last year, costing ACC $272 million.

Data released today tell us over 3,000 people were off work for more than 3 months as a result of falls in the home and almost 10,000 people were off work for more than a week.

Funny thing about gravity is that you never fall upwards.

Constituents who want a quick primer on the matter can check things out here, where they will be told gravity is a force that exists among all material objects in the universe.

For any two objects or particles having nonzero mass , the force of gravity tends to attract them toward each other. Gravity operates on objects of all sizes, from subatomic particles to clusters of galaxies. It also operates over all distances, no matter how small or great.

Isaac Newton defined its behaviour with his famous Law of Universal Gravitation.

His theories about gravitation were modified in the 20th century when Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity, leading to the Principle of Equivalence.

Fascinating, eh?

Anyway, it means that when you fall you may be hurt.

This can be expensive.

Our splendid Associate Minister for ACC, Hekia Parata, is banging on this morning about how home injuries cost New Zealanders $537 million last year.

But she is particularly concerned to alert us to falls and their implications.

This week is New Zealand Safety Week where the focus is on raising awareness of the extent and consequences of falls in the home.

Home injuries accounted for the highest proportion of new ACC claims – 612,000 – and the highest proportion of cost in 2010.

The most common causes of accidents in the home were slips, trips and falls.

It was Hekia who drew Alf’s attention to the 261,000-plus people who were injured in falls at home last year, costing ACC $272 million.

“You might be surprised to learn that two thirds of those claims were made by people in the workforce and the cost to ACC of those falls was $164 million,’’ says Ms Parata.

“We often assume it is older people and young children who fall but ACC injury statistics show that we are all susceptible to falls.

“These falls can have a significant impact on our lives.”

Throughout this week ACC, with the support of over 800 businesses and community groups, is running an awareness campaign encouraging all New Zealanders to prevent falls in their homes.

Some things seem obvious to Alf.

For example, last year more than 9,000 people in New Zealand were injured by a fall while gardening.

So let’s regulate gardening. Or ban it.

Even better, we should repeal the law of gravity.

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