Slips Trips Falls

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

There are over 500,000 slip and fall injuries every year in North America that require hospital care.  Slip and fall injuries are the second leading cause of accidental death and disability after transportation accidents.  In certain industries such as hotels, restaurants, public buildings and hospitals slips and falls are the number one cause of accidents. There are hundreds of thousands more slips, falls and near misses that go unreported or result in insignificant injuries.  Slips and falls account for over 17,000 fatalities per year in the United States.  This correlates to approximately 46 deaths per day as a result of a slip, trip or fall.  Aside from the economical loss resulting from these accidents; such as time lost from work, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation claims, insurance premium increases, the emotional loss from losing a loved one or having a debilitating injury, can be life altering.  From an economic standpoint trip and fall injuries cost the US 36 billion dollars annually.  Fortunately slips, trips and falls can be prevented by focusing more attention on prevention rather than compensation.

In the Construction industry it has been reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that one in ten construction site workers are injured every year.  OSHA also reports that slips and falls are the leading cause of injury in the construction industry. Statistics illustrate that nearly 70% of falls occur at flat and level surfaces resulting from a slip or trip incident.  The common types of injuries attributed to slip and falls are fractures, abrasions, and lacerations causing injury to the back, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee and lower back.  Slips and trips happen when there is insufficient friction between the floor surface and the footwear.  Hazards are present both on construction sites and in everyday situations that can contribute to a slip and fall event.  Some of the more common hazards are:

  • Contaminants on the floor
  • Indoor and outdoor walking surface irregularities
  • Weather conditions contributing to increased friction such as ice or rain
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Obstructed view
  • Inconsistent stair treads or risers
  • Wrinkled carpeting
  • Tripping hazards such as loose cords, hoses or wires; and
  • Contaminants on the floor is the leading cause of slip and fall accidents. Contaminants include things such as grease, oil, food, water or another fluid. Fluids or other contaminants increase the friction between the walking surface and footwear.

There are many ways to reduce the friction between the floor surface and a worker’s footwear.  Things such as good housekeeping, proper floor cleaning and slip resistant shoes can help to minimize the risk of slipping.  Aside from good housekeeping and maintenance activities is the necessity to develop a comprehensive Slip Trip and Fall (STF) prevention program.  Studies performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have shown that implementing an STF prevention program can lead to significant declines in worker injuries occurrences of slips and falls.  The objective of implementing a slip, trip and fall prevention program is to ensure they don’t happen in the first place.  Some aspects of a good program are to examine the past trends and data regarding how the slips and falls occur at any given facility or site.  Employee communication and training can greatly increase the awareness and recognition of hazards that lead to falls.  Other aspects of a STF prevention program include:

  • Initiate and maintain a written maintenance program
  • Identify potential hazardous areas or conditions and attempt to eliminate exposure to such areas
  • Document near misses or close calls as they can be just as important for the prevention of future slips
  • Document and keep records of employee training and orient any new employees of hazards to watch for
  • Teach employees to continually monitor for hazards and correct or report any potential unsafe areas; and
  • Ensure lighting is sufficient and maintained for the task at hand

A worker in any industry can take steps to ensure a safe walking environment.  It should be encouraged by management for employees to look for and correct potential hazards.  Harnesses and other fall protection equipment should be worn where applicable.  If an employee sees a spill or contaminant, clean it up.  Ensure handrails on stairs are installed and functional.  In the construction industry guard rails and toe boards should be installed at all elevated surfaces.

Changing or modification of existing walking surfaces may help to add traction to prevent slips and trips.  Re-coating or replacing slippery floors, abrasive strips, concrete additives, floor runners, chemicals and abrasive strips are all means to improve traction and reduce the likeliness of a slip and fall accident.  The selection of proper footwear is another key to increase traction, especially in workplaces that may be oily or wet.

The goal of a good SFT program should be to eliminate the sources of the slip, trip or fall so that no one suffers the economic or emotional loss from such an event.  The reality is that the implementation of all the measures above may not be enough, and slips and trips are likely going to happen.  When a slip, trip or fall happens the building manager or owner is often left wondering how the accident occurred and what can be done to prevent another in the future.  CSMI has recognized a need to answer these questions.  One way to analyze these types of accidents is to measure the slip resistivity of the floor surface using what is called a tribometer.   A tribometer is an instrument that measures the coefficient of friction which is the friction force between two surfaces in contact.  A slip meter is the name given to a machine used to perform tests on friction and lubrication.  A proper slip meter can test any floor surface in relation to the forces that occur in human hip joints as one is walking.  This is also known as gait.  Based on our research of tribometry and slip meters the one that most accurately measures the coefficient of friction is the English XL VIT.  The English XL VIT is capable of measuring any floor surface, even when wet with water or another contaminant.  The English XL VIT slip meter can benefit a wide range of clients including insurance companies, contractors, property managers and attorneys.

There are building codes and standards in effect today that require floor surface slip resistance.  The purpose of the standards is to prevent slips and falls in the workplace.   One such standard is ASTM F1637 which states:

This practice covers design and construction guidelines and minimum maintenance criteria for new and existing buildings and structures. This practice is intended to provide reasonably safe walking surfaces for pedestrians wearing ordinary footwear. These guidelines may not be adequate for those with certain mobility impairments.

CSMI has two certified XL tribometrists on staff to assist in the analysis of slip and fall accidents.  In addition to this service CSMI can assist with facility measures to prevent slip and fall accidents from happening in the first place.  We perform company audits of current programs and hazard analysis to identify potential sources of slips, trips and falls.  We can assist in the development of an STF prevention program and provide ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the program.

Please see our website for further background regarding the English XL VIT slip meter.

References:

National Safety Council

Bureau of Labor Statistics

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Center for Disease Control

Department of Labor

OSHA

ANSI

ASTM

 

Lanlin Blocks

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

The following narrative depicts CSMI construction claim analysis. No names in this narrative are those of actual individuals, companies, organizations or corporations.

 

CSMI was retained by the owner of the Lanlin Blocks project. CSMI used its prior knowledge regarding this project when it was retained on behalf of the owner for schedule delay analysis claim.

 

Stridon Investment Properties, LLC (Stridon), the owner, entered into a contract with Lexel Construction, Inc. (Lexel) for core and shell construction of the Lanlin Blocks project that consisted of East and West Buildings. Stridon also entered into a contract with Kondwell Contracting, LLC (Kondwell) for tenant improvements construction on the same project. Kondwell’s scope of work, among other tenant improvement work, included the counter demising wall project located at the East Building. Kondwell entered into a subcontract with Merger Drywall, Inc. (Merger) under which Merger was to perform certain portions of the demising wall project. Plaintiff Carl Pilsen was employed by Merger as a carpenter and was assigned to the demising wall project.

 

On June 10, 2009 Pilsen was working with another employee of Merger on a mobile scaffold and while the plaintiff’s co-worker was moving the scaffold, one of the wheels of the scaffold dropped into a hole in the floor causing the scaffolding to tip over and collapse, and causing the plaintiff to fall approximately sixteen to eighteen feet to the concrete floor, as a result of which plaintiff suffered severe and permanent personal injuries.

 

CSMI evaluated plaintiff’s claim and established that the Lanlin Blocks was a multi-employer worksite and applied OSHA Directive No. CPL 02-00-124. We analyzed history of the hole in question and covering of the hole in question to establish which employer was responsible for covering the hole. CSMI cited applicable Washington Administrative Codes for hole guarding and covering. CSMI evaluated plaintiff’s standard of care and negligence and owner’s involvement in the project. We evaluated scaffold in question and cited applicable WACs. CSMI analyzed contributing factors to the incident.

The Lundai Administrative Building

Friday, October 10th, 2014

The following narrative depicts CSMI construction claim analysis. No names in this narrative are those of actual companies, organizations or corporations.

 

The Lundai Tribe retained CSMI to conduct an analysis of the Striverson’s (general contractor) claim that arose from the construction of the Lundai Tribal Administration Building. Lundai Tribe entered into three contracts with Striverson: civil contract, structural steel contract, and vertical contract. Total contracted value: $27 million.

 

CSMI scope of services included schedule delay analysis to determine causation of project delays, responsible parties for delays, and to itemize duration of delays. CSMI analyzed complex segments of the project for delays, including submittals / shop drawings and materials procurement, fabrication, and installation of the design-build curtain wall system, custom designed peeled logs, and a complex fire safety system. We evaluated delays for compensable and non-compensable delays. CSMI calculated liquidated damages based on our calculation of compensable delays. We presented our findings and provided recommendations to the Lundai Tribe.

 

Our schedule delay analysis was used by the Lundai Tribe to evaluate strength of the claim as well as Lundai’s potential claim for liquidated damages under the contract with Striverson.

Building and Fire Code Changes Boost Recession Recovery

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

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After the recession, Oregon began blending fire and building codes, offering new training approaches for building inspectors and greater flexibility to local building officials. In efforts to help the state recover from the recession, the cycle for adopting national code is now every six years instead of every three years, with an interim code amendment process every three years.

The six year code cycle will reduce costs for building inspectors and increase predictability for builders. Code books will not need to be purchased as frequently, training hours will be reduced for building inspectors, and less modifications and revisions will be required during the building process. Furthermore, the three-year interim code amendment process will provide clarity surrounding provisions as well as safety and technology updates.

The update of the 2011 Residential Specialty Code (ORSC), effective October 1st, 2014, is considered a three-year interim code amendment. The 2017 ORSC update will be based on national model code with Oregon Amendments.

via Better Buildings Oregon