7 ways we get hurt at home – and how to avoid them

Grandmother prepares food with Grandkids

Home is where the heart is, but just how safe are they? As Aotearoa spends time back in our bubbles, we unearth the story behind the data.

If you had to guess, where would you say is the most likely place to suffer a preventable injury? On the road? On the sports field? Perhaps on the playground? In fact, it's one of the last places you'd think of: your own home.

Since the way that we live and work has changed recently, it’s important to keep our bubbles a safe and happy place to be. To help, we've looked into how we’re getting hurt at home – and some simple safety tips to avoid them.

Family washes car

The seven ways we’re injuring ourselves at home

On average, two in every ten New Zealanders will injure themselves in their home. But what are the injuries behind the statistic?

1: Falls

Having a fall is commonly attributed to older age groups, but they can and do happen to anyone at any age.

In fact, the most affected age group for fall injuries is 0-9 years old.

With 1.6 million new claims over the last 5 years, falls are the leader of injuries in the home because they’re so easy to have in any circumstance.

While they’re the most common injury at home, they are also the most preventable. For older family members, check out Live Stronger for Longer for tips on strength and balance. Another great step is going through Live Stronger for Longer’s home safety checklist.

Live Stronger for Longer 

Booted foot trips on rug

2: Lifting and carrying

We're all guilty of trying to carry all the groceries from the car in one trip. What we may not realise is what the injury cost of us saving a minute or two really is.

Those in the 30-39 age group are most likely to have a lifting or carrying injury, most commonly injuring their lower back. With over 620,000 new claims in the last five years, both how we lift and how much we’re lifting can impact our health if done improperly. 

Staying safe at home can be as simple as taking a moment to prepare our body and using good form. For tips on how to prevent an injury, have a read of TBI Health’s guide to manual lifting. 

TBI Health - Tips for manual handling


3: Animal-related

As cute as our furry friends are, the injuries they can cause are less attractive. Children from 0-9 years old lead this category, and they are most commonly suffering bites and scratches from their cuddly companions.

With over 325,000 new claims for animal-related injuries at home over the last five years, our young ones are building animal relationships the hard way.

If your child gets hurt playing with their animal buddy, use it as a learning opportunity to help them learn about proper pet care.

Four cats sit on a benchtop

4: Gardening

It doesn’t have to be a ripper of a day for us to get out in the garden, we love it year-round.

Gardening is a long-standing hobby of many New Zealanders, but our older population are seeing the tougher side of it.

60-69 year-olds are most commonly injured in the garden, and they’re hurting their lower back the most. Getting at those pesky weeds can put us in precarious positions, so it’s important that we make sure we have the tools we need to do the job safely.

If you or someone you know is out in the garden, check out our home safety checklist to see what you can do to prevent injury and support yourself.

Live Stronger for Longer - Home Safety Checklist

5: Puncture(s)

Don’t let the name of this injury fool you, this injury is one many of us know well: the knife cut.

Our fingers and thumbs are most commonly suffering, and the kids giving it a go in the kitchen are the ones hurting themselves the most from ages 0-9.

Keep your young chefs safe by guiding them on proper knife safety. You can also check out these tips from a top Kiwi chef:

ACC - Five expert knife tips from a Kiwi chef

Child cuts banana while grandma watches

6: Twisting movement

Putting our back out is not an uncommon injury, and for our 50-59 year-olds this is happening mostly in the lower back.

Quickly turning to grab or react to something can have more serious consequences than we think, with over 282,000 new claims over the last five years. Take a moment to think about doing the twist safely – both at home and on the dance floor. 

7: Collision/knocked over

Children colliding with each other is not unusual, and is in fact a part of growing up. But what we may not realise is that our 0-9 year-olds are most-commonly injuring their hands as they go down.

It’s not reserved for children however. With over 250,000 new claims in the last five years, it’s easily done by anyone around the home. Take care as you round corners and be wary of your surroundings as you play tag and hide-and-seek.

Young man hands injured friend a plate of food

The cost of injuries at home

While that paints an interesting picture for us of how we’re hurting ourselves, the effects can be very serious and sometimes life-changing.

While many of the most common injuries regularly happen to the 0-9 age group, the 50-59 year-olds are most likely to be injured at home. 40-49 year-olds hold a very close third place.

Average cost

of home-based injury claims

Average cost

Most common age group (50-59)

Average cost

Most common injury (Soft Tissue)

While these ages are typical of parents and kids, we're also seeing an increase in home-based injury claims cost for those aged 20-29 and 60-69.

According to our claim data, females have a higher proportion of claims than males, but males have a higher proportion of the cost.

We know from research that 90% of all accidents are preventable, and we want to see New Zealanders be safer at home.

Have you experienced an injury at home?

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Staying safe

We've paid $5.6 billion in active claims from an injury sustained at home over the last five years, so it’s important we take safety around the home seriously.

Have a chat to those you live with about making small and simple changes. Keeping floors clear of cables and other items, wiping up any spills immediately, and ensuring everyone knows how to safely interact with animals and what to do if they see a hazard.

As working from home becomes part of daily life, ensure your home is set up for safety and productivity. 

Five ways to avoid your home office becoming a danger zone

Young man mows lawn for older couple

Isaac Carlson, the Head of Injury Prevention at ACC, says we can improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders by decreasing the number and reducing the severity of injuries.

"We're challenging all New Zealanders to 'have a hmmm' - a moment to think about what you're about to do and what could go wrong to prevent injury."

He says taking a pause for a few seconds can save days, weeks, months or a lifetime of harm and hurt – for the person and others.

"We want people to be out there and doing the things they love, and living life to the full, but we also want to collectively change our mindset on preventing injury."

Learn more about 'Have a hmmm'