Skip to main content

Local, state, and regional firefighter stakeholders, and UNC staff during a project on-boarding event (11/20/2021).

Slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of occupational injury deaths, and non-fatal slips, trips and falls result in over $10 billion in workers’ compensation costs annually. Firefighters have one of the highest rates of slip, trip, and fall (STF) injuries, accounting for 20-25% of all firefighter injuries annually. The goals of our project Total Worker Health® Approach to Reduce Falls and Advance Fall Protection in Firefighters are to 1) prospectively identify and characterize STF events among 1,200 firefighters, 2) comprehensively identify STF event risk factors by applying the Total Worker Health® approach, and 3) use these results to assess the feasibility of a community-based participatory approach to engage firefighters and develop STF mitigation strategies.

This is a collaborative project between researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Research Triangle Institute in the Carolina Center for Healthy Workplace Design and Well-Being. Funding for this project was provided by the CDC (#U19-OH012303).  This project was approved by the UNC Institutional Review Board (# 21-2508).

Study Video: Firefighter Slip, Trip, Fall Study

What departments can participate? Any career Fire Departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Our initial recruitment of departments will occur within ~ 4 hours from UNC-Chapel Hill.  We will reach out to departments at random.

Which career firefighters are eligible? Any career firefighter assigned to fire suppression duties.

What will you be asked to do?

  • 1 day of testing: We will ask you to complete some basic assessments at your fire station. These include basic tests such as muscle strength, balance, and surveys asking about your health and your working conditions.  Our research team will travel to your station for testing at your convenience.
  • Follow-upwe will then ask you to communicate with us through a 1-question biweekly text message if you experience a slip, trip, or fall.  You will receive 30 total text messages after the 1 day of testing.

What will we do with your information? All data collected from you will be confidential and will not be shared with your department or anyone outside our research team.

Any compensation? You will receive a free t-shirt and can earn up to $25 for completing the study.


Study Team Members:

Eric Ryan, PhD – Project PI
Jeremy Bray, PhD
Nicholas Buoncristiani, MS
David Couper, PhD
Gena Gerstner, PhD, MPH
Kristen Kucera, PhD
Alex Lightfoot, EdD
Laura Linnan, ScD – Center PI
Johna Register-Mihalik, PhD
John Staley, PhD, MSEH

Thank you! 

We sincerely thank the fire departments and state, regional, and national firefighter organizations for their support of this project.




Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by the Carolina Center for Healthy Workplace Design and Well-Being does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.



For any IRB related questions, please call 919-966-3113.