WHY THE COEFFICIENT OF FRICTION IS IMPORTANT ON THE FLOOR
Just in case you’ve forgotten – this week is Fall Prevention Awareness Week. While many of us are spending more time indoors these days because of the pandemic, falls continue to be a common cause of fatalities, not only in the workplace and when we’re out and about, but in the home.
Falls are serious and costly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions, citing the following statistics:
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury.
- Each year 3 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries.
- 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of fall injuries.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Indoor hazards related to falls include broken or uneven steps and broken tiles or floorboards. In fact, faulty or uneven flooring is a major cause of fall accidents in general. One way of measuring the safety of a floor surface is called the coefficient of friction. Floor surfaces are measured by dragging a polymer sheet (with a fixed weight on top) across a stainless steel sheet under dry and wet conditions and measuring the friction using a device called a forcemeter.
While the cruise association reports it won’t resume until at least November, the cruise industry serves as one good example of the need for fall prevention. Cruise ship slip and fall accidents are common, partly because of corrosion of flooring materials from salt water, sea spray, and water trafficked from swimming pools. Cruise lines must make sure floor surfaces meet thresholds for slip resistance under wet and dry conditions.
“Most people don’t slip and fall on clean, dry, and level floors,” EHS Today observes. While falls can be caused by improper footwear choices, poor lighting, or lack of training, the primary cause in more than half of slip, trip and fall injuries is a problem with the walking surface.” Walkway audits using a tool called a tribometer need to be performed to identify hazards such as:
- frayed carpeting
- loose floorboards
- areas where overspray coats the floor
Slip and fall accident cases are based on a type of negligence called premises liability. Property owners have a duty to prevent dangerous conditions in and around their premises.
As personal injury attorneys with extensive experiences handling slip and fall accident injuries, we know that to determine that, in order to hold the owner of a premises liable, one of three things needs to be proven:
- The property owner or employee caused the spill, worn or torn spot or other hazard.
- The property owner or an employee knew about the danger but did nothing about it.
- The owner or employee should have known about the dangerous surface – any reasonable person would have realized the danger.
But, what if the injured person is an employee? It would be a good idea to have that personal consultation as soon as possible if:
- Your injuries require surgery
- You are no longer able to work at your job on a regular basis
- You have been told you are no longer able to work at any job using your skills
- You would like to dispute a decision made by the Indiana Workers’ Compensation
The coefficient of friction is very important when it comes to floors, because slip and fall accidents can turn into catastrophes.