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Ministry of Health

Injury Prevention - Working Towards an Injury-free BC

Most injuries are not newsworthy: a senior falling, a fender-bender, or a sports injury. These incidents may seem commonplace, but these and other types of incidents claimed 1,721 lives, sent 32,667 people to hospital, and left 739 disabled in British Columbia in 2004. 17 In fact, injuries are the leading cause of death of British Columbians under the age of 44 and the fourth leading cause of death across all age groups. 3

Many people think that injuries are inevitable and random. According to injury experts, 90% of injuries are predictable and preventable. 4 Effective injury prevention could translate into 90% fewer injuries and injury-related deaths each year.

Individuals, families, and communities all play important roles in reducing the frequency and severity of injuries. Understanding injury prevention and becoming aware of risks in everyday life is the first step to create a safer environment for yourself, your family, and your community.

The provincial government works with external partners to use the following four approaches to prevent injury:

  • Education: Focuses on educating individuals about changing behaviours that can lead to injuries.
  • Enforcement: Involves safety legislation and policies, including passing, strengthening, and enforcing voluntary standards, regulations and laws. For example, making wearing a bicycle helmet mandatory and enforcing seatbelt and child seat use.
  • Engineering and Environmental Design: Consists of making the design, development, and manufacture of products and the built environment safer. Examples include creating dedicated bike lanes and ensuring that playground equipment is safe.
  • Engagement: For example, the Ministry of Health, the federal government and the First Nations Health Authority work together under the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan on systemic change and improvement in injury prevention and safety promotion for and within First Nations communities.

Research has shown that initiatives that use at least two of these approaches have the greatest chance of reducing injuries. 6

For more information about preventing injuries resulting from falls among seniors, please see the webpages on Seniors' Fall Prevention.

Resources include the “Primary Care Multimedia Package”, “Strategies and Actions for Independent Living”, “Promoting Active Living: Best Practice Guidelines for Fall Prevention in Assisted Living”, and a “Framework and Toolkit for Fall Related Injury Prevention in Residential Care”.