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Slip & Fall Claims - New Testing Device

December 21, 2010


Expert Analysis of Slip, Trip & Fall Surfaces
Helping You Resolve Slip, Trip & Fall Liability Claims

Slips, Trips, and Falls result in some of the most common and costly liability claims against business owners (source: Insurance Bureau of Canada). If you are handling a claim involving a slip, trip or fall, we have a tool that can provide insight into the factors that contributed to the incident and can assist you in understanding how to resolve the liability.

The key element in most slip, trip or fall situations, and the subject of most occupier liability claims, is the slip resistance between the ground surface and the claimant’s footwear. It is an unexpected decrease or increase in traction that causes instability in an individual’s gait and leads to the occurrence of a slip or trip. The three main factors that influence traction, or slip resistance, are the ground surface, environmental conditions and footwear. Characteristics related to all three of these factors must be considered when assessing the slip resistance. Some characteristics include the ground slope, ground geometry, surface texture, surface finish, ambient temperature, precipitation (when outdoors), surface contamination (e.g. water, grease, etching agent), footwear material, or contamination of the footwear sole.

Sintra Engineering has been retained to investigate many slip, trip and fall incidents. Commonly, building code issues pertaining to the ground surface are investigated and include reference to a floor with “slip resistance”. There are various standards that outline methodologies to measure the slip resistance of a floor material or ground surface. Typically, these test methods require a weighted block to be pulled across the test surface to assess a friction or slip resistance. Even though tests can be conducted in this manner to assess the slip resistance of a particular surface, the resulting measurements typically do not provide an accurate indication of the increased or decreased traction experienced by an individual in a particular incident.

In order to gain better insight for a specific case, Sintra Engineering utilizes a slip resistance tester designed for testing walkway traction. The tester is portable, which allows us to easily travel and take it on site. We can test the actual incident surface with different shoe materials and under different environmental conditions (e.g. wet, dry, chemical application). The tester functions by contacting the test surface with a footwear sample in a manner similar to how an individual steps down onto the ground. This procedure produces slip resistance values that more accurately represent what an individual experiences as he or she steps on the surface.

The added benefit of using the slip resistance tester is that comparisons of slip resistance can be made under different surface conditions. Also, the influence of ground contaminants on the available traction can be measured. The test results can demonstrate objectively what corresponding increase or decrease in traction would have been experienced by the claimant. This can then help answer questions about liability and whether or not a slip, trip or fall occurred due to occupiers’ negligence or because of something inherent to the injured party.


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