Are you worried about a trip and fall at your property?
You should be… More than one million slip-and-fall accidents occur in the United States each year. They are the No. 1 reason people go to a hospital emergency room, and 17,000 people die each year from these accidents.
What causes slips, trips, and falls?
Slips, trips, and fall accidents result in thousands of preventable injuries. Slips, trips, and falls are also among the most frequent causes of loss.
These accidents can result in claims and judgments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which ultimately can impact your insurance premium. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are entirely preventable.
56% of slips, trips, and falls are caused by environmental factors such as slippery surfaces following rain or spills, poorly designed or maintained walkways, poor lighting on stairs and walkways, and trip hazards.
Cost of a Trip and Fall Accident
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company estimates that more than $61 billion per year is spent on disability claims in America, with $15.57 billion, or 25.1 percent, resulting from falls. An additional $2.35 billion, or 3.8 percent, is spent on slips and trips that do not result in a fall.
While General Liability and Commercial Package Insurance policies usually cover these types of injuries, these types of accidents can result in insurance claims and costly and time-consuming lawsuits.
Liability can be a tricky determination, but usually, the injured can file a lawsuit against a property owner, property manager, and/or a cleaning contractor.
When can a property owner, building manager, or cleaning contractor be held liable for a trip and fall?
The property owner, manager, or cleaning contractor caused the accident.
The property owner, manager, or cleaning contractor was aware of a dangerous surface but did nothing about it.
The property owner, manager, or cleaning contractor should have known about a hazardous surface or situation but did nothing about it. (Source)
In most instances, these accidents and resulting lawsuits and claims can be lessened or prevented entirely simply by addressing the most common causes of such losses.
The Most Common Causes of Trip and Fall Accidents:
Spills, wet or icy walking surfaces
Uneven or worn floors/carpets/steps/sidewalks
Inadequate or poorly maintained lighting
Poor housekeeping – Excess clutter/trash in walkways or near open flames or hot surfaces
It is incumbent on you to minimize trip and fall accidents on your property (and in your home) as much as possible.
A trip and fall accident can be devastating to the person who is injured and to the owners and maintainers of the property. Make sure to do everything you can to prevent a trip and fall accident from happening on your property by following these important guidelines.
14 Ways to Minimize Trip and Falls
- Replace light bulbs as soon as they burn out. Make sure that all hallways, stairways, and areas are lit adequately.
- Clean up spills as soon as possible. Keep cleaning materials accessible to be used as quickly as possible. If the area cannot be cleaned immediately, mark the area with clear signage to prevent accidents.
- Have wet floor signs to put out immediately after either a spill, a floor is cleaned, or wet weather is causing excess moisture.
- Use moisture-absorbent and slip-resistant mats and wet floor signs to minimize accidents. Place mats inside and outside entrances, at the top and bottom of stairways and escalators, and the top and bottom of the steps. They should be placed inside and outside elevators, around water fountains or other water receptacles, on hard walkways that connect with carpeted areas, in restrooms, and in other areas where tripping or slipping can be a reasonable fear.
- Keep hallways and walkways clear of debris clutter and obstacles. Insist that all cleaning and building materials be appropriately stored when they are not in use. In a multi-family residence, do not allow tenants to keep items except in designated areas.
- Keep areas clean. Sweep floors regularly and remove debris immediately. Keep trash cans in public spaces to safely dispose of trash and litter.
- Encourage workers to wear non-slip shoes.
- Make sure to properly light basements and stairways and any other naturally dark areas.
- Have a well-lit entryway at all times, especially at night.
- Keep filing cabinets, desk drawers, and electrical cabinets shut when not in use.
- Install proper handrails by all stairways.
- Keep ice salt ready and properly salt pavements and sidewalks to reduce the chance of ice in freezing conditions.
- Power, internet, and phone cords can be a hazard. Try to keep cables behind or against walls or under carpets. Install power outlets, internet connections, and phone jacks to make sure no wires and cables run across walkways.
- Maintain flooring. Ensure there are no cracks or holes in building flooring or pavement—repair and place warning signs when repairs may take time.