Walk This Way: Slips, Trips, & Falls

Slips, trips, and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths and are one of the most frequently reported causes for emergency room visits, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These accidents are the second leading cause behind motor vehicle fatalities. That is why it is extremely important for property owners to identify and eliminate hazards and obstacles on walking surfaces.

So what is a Slip?

Caution Wet FloorThe National Safety Council defines a slip in a legal sense as, a sudden loss of footing on a walkway surface resulting in an unexpected slide of the foot. This slide may lead to a loss of balance and could result in a fall Primary causes of slips and falls on floors:

  • The presence of a foreign substance (food, water, grease, oil, sawdust, soap or debris)
  • Inadequate housekeeping and maintenance
  • Unsafe physical conditions created by improper work procedures

What is a Trip?

A trip is caused by an abrupt change in elevation causing a momentary interruption in leg swing while the body is in forward motion. Primary causes of trips and falls hazards:

  • Difference in elevation
  • Unobserved, misplaced or poorly designed movable equipment, fixtures or displays

Slips, trips, and falls pose a unique safety issue. Property owners do not have the ability to control the movements of their employees and customers or monitor their walkway conditions at all times. However, the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) developed a Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces to establish guidelines for what can and should be controlled.

American Society for Testing and Materials International F1637:

V. Walkway Surfaces

5.1.1 Walkways shall be stable, planar, flush, and even to the extent possible.

5.1.3 Walkway surfaces shall be slip resistant under expected environmental conditions and use.

5.1.4 Interior walkways that are not slip resistant when wet shall be maintained dry during periods of pedestrian use.

Slip on Banana PealIt is the responsibility of the establishment to exercise reasonable care and routinely inspect their floors and walkways. A delay in removing a hazard from the floor surface can result in a customer or employee injury.