Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Slip, Trip and Fall

Children Will Fall At Playgrounds. What Shall We Do To Protect Them? A Multipart Blog Series – Part I

Co-Authored with Aron Olson, PE   

In 2011, a 5-year old boy was severely injured at a public playground when he fell through a second floor opening around a fireman’s pole in a playhouse. He fell more than seven feet and struck a bare concrete floor. We are thankful that he eventually recovered from his injuries. The person who designed and built the playground was accused of negligence. A lawsuit ensued, and eventually settled in favor of the boy. Read More

Steve Hunt using an Excel Tribometer measuring a floor surface.

The Impact of Technology on Slip and Fall Incidents

I have investigated hundreds of slip and fall incidents in my career. Today, we have new tools and technology available to assist investigators in conducting forensic investigations to determine the cause or causes of these incidents and to assist owners and operators in loss preventions efforts to minimize the potential of slip and fall incidents. Read More

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Painting of Handicap Ramps

As an experienced safety consultant, I’m called on to investigate a wide range of premises liability incidents. One common premises liability incident that often results in serious injury is a fall on a handicap ramp. There are at least four types of handicap ramps – flare side, parallel, returned curb and built-up.

Handicap ramps were originally designed and incorporated into buildings as a means of egress to accommodate individuals with disabilities, particularly those in wheel chairs. Navigating a standard 6-inch curb can be a significant barrier for someone with a mobility disability and a proper ramp eliminates that barrier. This post will focus on painting on and around handicap ramps.

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The International Code Council/American National Standards Institute ICC/ANSI) A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities and ADA Standards for Accessible Design provide standards and guidelines for the proper construction and placement of handicap ramps, however, it often surprises people when they find out that no Codes or Standards have provided any specifics on painting of ramps, that is up until the 2009 ICC/ANSI A117.1 which became effective in 2011.  Even then the painting requirement only applies to one specific part of a curb ramp.

The 2009 ICC A117.1 states: 406.3.2 Marking. If curbs adjacent to the ramp flares are painted, the painted surface shall extend along the flared portion of the curb. The purpose of this new requirement is to provide a visual cue to pedestrians approaching the flared side of the curb.

Although there are limited painting requirements, it is the practice of many to paint ramp structures and I have seen ramps painted in many different ways with no real consistency.  So why do people paint ramps? The reason is to bring attention to various aspects of a ramp such as slope, and changes in elevation, which can be a pedestrian fall hazard in some constructed ramps. Proper painting of ramps is a good practice when proper paint materials are used and it effectively highlights or alerts pedestrians to a feature of the ramp. On the other hand, improper painting can create hazards.

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Walking surfaces should have adequate color contrast at change in elevation points.  For example, many ramps have black asphalt abutting the white concrete of sections of the curb ramp. The color difference serves to highlight transition points and bring attention to them. Where no color contrast exists, proper painting can improve the visibility of elevations points. In the ASTM F1637 Standard for Safe Walking Surfaces, warnings and color contrast are stated to be helpful preventative measures. Painting of the top side of the entire flare or flare is discouraged by many safety professionals. One potential problem with painting the entire top side of the ramp slopes is that the paint can make the inclined surface less slip resistant. The type of paint used is a factor in slip resistance. Many paint types can make walking surfaces extremely slippery when wet. If painting is done on or around a ramp the paint used should be checked to see if it is of a formulation approved for use on exterior walking surfaces.

ASTM F1637 Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces states: 5.1.3 Painted walkways shall contain an abrasive additive, crosscut grooving, texturizing or other appropriate means to render the surface slip resistant where wet conditions maybe reasonably forseeable.

On some ramps painting may camouflages areas where a change in elevation exists such as the start of a sloped section or where a curb and the walking surface meet. I often see curbs and curbs on ramps painted not only on the side face and top face but also on the walking surface just in front of the curb. In some cases, when walking on the top side this can hide the curb edge from sight and increase the fall potential.

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Painting of handicap ramps is a serious consideration that should be carefully planned and performed to insure the safety of all pedestrians who interact with the walkway surface.

J. Steven Hunt, CPCU, ARM, is president and senior safety consultant at Warren. Steve specializes in premises liability incidents, construction falls and safety management programs, has achieved the designation of Associate Risk Management and Chartered Property and Liability Underwriter from Insurance Institute of America, Chicago, IL. Steve has investigated more than 1,000 accidents in his more than 39-year career, including 33 cases involving fatalities. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Administrative Management with a Minor in Occupational Safety and Health from Clemson University.

Figure 1: An illustration of a properly constructed flared side curb ramp.

A Steep Price: Improperly sloped curb ramps increase the potential of serious pedestrian injury

As an experienced safety consultant, I’m called to investigate a wide range of premises liability incidents. One common premises incident that often results in serious injury is a fall on a curb ramp. There are at least four types of curb ramps: flare side, parallel, returned curb and built-up. This post will focus primarily on flare side curb ramps which are the most common type constructed today. Read More

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Who is Responsible for a “Booby Trap” Opening on a Roof Top? Part 3

As an experienced safety consultant, I have investigated many incidents in my career in which a worker “falls through an opening.”  The majority of these incidents have occurred at construction sites and most resulted in serious injury or death. Read More

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Safety Inspections for Outdoor Decks are Necessary

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The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) recognizes the month of May as Deck Safety Month®. This is the time of the year to get serious and take the necessary steps to safeguard your deck so that it is enjoyable not only for your family, but your friends and any visitors. The NADRA has a deck safety program and they just released a video in an effort to save lives and prevent injuries and to protect your family and friends. Read More

Figure 1: A computer-generated illustration of the “normal” and “drag” forces. In this context, the word normal means “perpendicular to the contact surface”. The drag force is also called the tangential force. The coefficient of friction between the block and the tile equals the drag force divided by the normal force. Since it is a ratio of forces, coefficient of friction is a unitless quantity. For walkway surfaces the static and dynamic coefficients of friction are typically less than 1.

Following the Evolution of Walkway Slip Resistance Standards

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In August 2014, I shared some thoughts on the ANSI A137.1-2012 standard titled “American National Standard for Ceramic Tile”. You can read that post here.  Among many other topics, ANSI A137 describes a dynamic coefficient of friction testing procedure for ceramic tiles. Read More

A closer view of the hole through which the worker fell.

Why did he fall off the edge? – Part 2 of series on Fall Through Openings

As an experienced safety consultant, I have investigated many incidents in which a worker falls through an opening.  The majority of these types of fall incidents have occurred at construction sites and most resulted in a serious injury or death. Read More

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Where did that hole come from? Part I

As an experienced safety consultant, I have investigated many incidents in my career in which a worker “falls through an opening.”  The majority of these incidents have occurred at construction sites and most of the ones I investigated resulted in a serious injury or death. Read More

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Can You Spot the Slip-and-Fall Hazards?

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According to the National Safety Council, falls accounted for 8.9 million visits to the emergency room in the United States in 2011. While some slip and fall hazards are obvious, many others go undetected until an incident occurs. Property owners can and should develop programs to prevent slips, trips, and falls. In part, that means becoming aware of what constitutes a hazard in a walkway surface and developing a keen eye for spotting them. So, can you spot the slip and fall hazards in these pictures? Read More

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