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Keeping your “house” in good order: Preventing costly “slip and falls”

Keeping your “house” in good order: Preventing costly “slip and falls”

Slip and fall accidents are almost all directly connected to the floor – either you slip on it or you fall on it. While there is no precise way to determine when someone else is legally responsible for something on which you slip and trip, cases turn on whether the property owner acted carefully so that the slipping or tripping was not likely to happen – and whether the victim was careless in not seeing or avoiding the accident.

Good housekeeping is the first and the most important level for preventing falls due to slips and trips. Below are a few points to consider to keep your “house” in order.

• Surface composition
Types of slip resistant floors and stairs to consider include brushed concrete, sheet vinyl with abrasive material, and seamless epoxy or urethane with surface aggregate. Porous surfaces tend to be the most slip resistant.
• Foreign substance potential
Floor areas that are likely to be wet or spilled upon (foyers, restaurants, canteens, kitchens, food factories and process plants of all types), or contain other foreign substances (grease on a garage floor, for example) are potential danger areas for slips and falls.
• Surface Conditions
Loose or torn carpeting, all stair types that are not slip resistant, broken tiles, ramps and parking lot divots are examples of surfaces that create potential tripping hazards.
• Level changes
Ramps, sloping areas, ledges. Steps (three or fewer) and similar surface irregularities can pose a slip/trip hazard. Be aware of such conditions, especially when there is no ‘colour contrast’ to call attention to the change.
• Obstructions
Extension cords, furniture, planters, floor displays and parking lot bumpers are examples of obstructions. When located near a common pathway, they have historically contributed to a number of trips and falls, some with serious consequences. Move or eliminate obstructions or highlight or call attention to them with bright paint.
• Visibility
Lighting, glare, and lack of colour contrast are the most common examples of visibility concerns.
• Stairs
Stairs are defined as having more than three steps, up or down. The presence of hand rails (consider both side – and centre – handrails), and overall stairway condition, including height and depth of risers and treads, are factors to take into account when determining the degree of hazard.
• Human factors
Consider the age of customers and associates, as well as shoe types. For example, seniors often have sight and other impairments, and children may tend to run and “horse around”. Are there any hazards at a child’s eye level that an adult would normally see? Consider the type of footwear most commonly worn by people walking the area.
• Unusual features
Art work, signs, displays, brooks, bridges and similar “mood” setters are common examples of features that can cause a distraction. Of particular concern are signs and other items on easels.

In conclusion, being mindful of the risk of “Slips and Falls” and using the right preventative materials can avoid a Property Owner a potential law suit or workplace injury.

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