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Falling is movement due to gravity, but also has other uses not directly related to gravity.


A sensation of falling occurs when the labyrinth or vestibular apparatus, a system of fluid-filled passages in the inner ear, detects motion. The same system also detects rotary motion. A similar sensation of falling can be induced when the eyes detect rapid apparent motion with respect to the environment. This system enables us to keep our balance by signalling when a physical correction is necessary.

When a human is in free fall in an orbiting spacecraft, or in an aircraft in a steep dive, the sensation of falling is constant, and the sensation of there being an "up" and a "down" is missing or much attenuated. Some medical conditions, known as balance disorders, also induce the sensation of falling.


Falling is a major cause of personal injury, especially for the elderly whose vision, nerve conduction and muscles are weaker, whose vestibular sense is diminished, whose neurological responses are extended, and whose bones have grown brittle. Builders and miners represent worker categories representing high rates of fall injuries. The WHO estimate (2002) that 392,000 people die in falls every year. In 1972, Vesna Vulović survived a fall from 33,000ft without a parachute.

Falls in the workplace

Falls from elevation hazards are present at most every jobsite, and many workers are exposed to these hazards daily. As such, falls are an important topic for occupational safety and health services. Any walking/working surface could be a potential fall hazard. An unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level should be protected from falling by the use of a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. [1] These hazardous exposures exist in many forms, and can be as seemingly innocuous as changing a light bulb from a step ladder to something as high-risk as connecting bolts on high steel at 200 feet in the air. Falls are the second leading cause of work-related death in the U.S. [2] In 2000, 717 workers died of injuries caused by falls from ladders, scaffolds, buildings, or other elevations.[2]

Falls from buildings

Falls from buildings are often accidental but can also be caused intentionally, such as by defenestration. Injuries resulting in falls from buildings vary depending on the building's height, and also depend on the type of person (infant, child, adult, elderly adult, etc.) Falls from the second floor usually result in injuries, but are not fatal.

Surviving a fall from higher points requires not injuring your head or pelvis.[3]


Stephen Lord at the University of New South Wales studied 80,000 elderly persons in Australia and found that the risk of falling increases for any who are taking multiple prescription medications and for all who are taking psychoactive drugs. This increased risk was demonstrated through the use of a variety of balance and reaction time tests. Inexplicably, the older men when matched with women of identical height, weight, and age, on average, performed measurably better in all of the balance and reaction time tests.[citation needed]

Drug Side Effect


  1. "NIOSH Falls from Elevations". United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  2. 2.0 2.1 >"STRATEGIC PRECAUTIONS AGAINST FATAL FALLS ON THE JOB ARE RECOMMENDED BY NIOSH" (Press release). National Institute for Occupatinal Safety and Health. 2001-01-02. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  3. Wenner, Melinda (2008-01-07). "How To Survive a 47-Story Fall: Make sure you land on your feet". Slate.

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