Risk management for Public Entities: Slips, Trips, and Falls

Public entities should address slip, trip, and fall safety hazards to help ensure a safe and healthy environment for their staff and patrons. Through the development and implementation of a comprehensive risk management plan, appropriate measures can be put in place to help prevent injuries or death resulting from these accidents on their property.

Modern business people walking on stairs in glass hall of office building

Slips, trips, and falls cause a significant number of injuries and deaths annually and can result in claims made against organizations, including public entities. Public entities will need to have appropriate measures in place across their properties to help ensure a safe and healthy environment for staff and patrons.

As part of their overall approach to minimizing slip, trip, and fall risk, public entities will need to consider a range of safety hazards and address them through the implementation of a comprehensive risk management plan to help prevent injury, severe harm, or death.

The following guidance highlights key areas of considerations for public entities to help them adopt the appropriate measures to protect staff and patrons on their properties from slip, trip, and fall safety hazards. It should not be seen as an exhaustive list and should be used in conjunction with internal policies and procedures, as well as in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Surfaces

  • Indoor areas (such as offices, hallways, bathrooms)
    • Indoor areas should be free of the following conditions:
      • Uneven surfaces or edges
      • Cracks, bulges, breaks, or tears
      • Exposed cords and cables
      • Wet or waxed areas
      • Garbage and other debris
    • The following measures should be in place in indoor areas:
      • High-traffic areas are monitored to quickly identify any safety hazards
      • Carpets are installed with seamless edges and breaks
      • Rugs or mats are placed in entryways and securely fastened
      • Adequate lighting lumens/brightness is provided
  • Outdoor areas (such as walkways and patios)
    • Outdoor areas should be free of the following conditions:
      • Insufficient drainage
      • Uneven surfaces or edges
      • Exposed cords and cables
      • Cracks, bulges, breaks
      • Garbage and other debris (e.g. leaves, branches)
    • The following measures should be in place in outdoor areas:
      • High-traffic areas are monitored to quickly identify any safety hazards
      • Accumulation of snow, ice, and rain (pooling) is monitored
      • Contrasting color strips are used to draw attention to any uneven surface level
      • Rugs or mats are placed in exterior door/entryways and securely fastened
      • Adequate lighting lumens/brightness is provided
  • Stairways
    • Stairways should be free of the following conditions:
      • Uneven surfaces or edges
      • Cracks, bulges, breaks
      • Garbage and other debris (e.g. leaves, branches)
    • The following actions should be in place on stairways:
      • Anti-slip surface/strips are installed on steps and landing
      • Contrasting color strips are installed on step edges
      • Handrails, barriers, railings are secured, sturdy, and unobstructed
      • Adequate lighting lumens/brightness is provided
  • Ramps
    • Ramps should be free of the following conditions:
      • Uneven surfaces or edges
      • Cracks, bulges, breaks, or tears
      • Garbage and other debris
    • The following actions should be in place on ramps:
      • Anti-slip surface/strips are installed on ramp and landing
      • Contrasting color strips are used to indicate the impending incline or decline from the level landing
      • Handrails, barriers, railings are secured, sturdy, and unobstructed
      • Adequate lighting lumens/brightness is provided
  • Parking lots
    • Parking lots should be free of the following conditions:
      • Insufficient drainage
      • Uneven surfaces or potholes
      • Cracks, bulges, breaks
      • Garbage and other debris
    • The following should be in place in parking lots:
      • Parking spots are clearly marked
      • Wheel stops are brightly painted
      • Speed bumps are brightly painted
      • Accumulation of snow, ice, and rain (pooling) is monitored
      • Adequate lighting lumens/brightness is provided

Footwear

  • Complete an assessment of job environments and activities in order to determine the appropriate footwear for staff in each role
  • Mandate that employees wear the appropriate and properly fitted footwear for their job environment and activities, which may include footwear with specific sole tread patterns or slip-resistant soles

Lighting

  • Ensure that all lighting is projecting the appropriate level of lumens/brightness to interior (e.g. office, hallways, bathrooms) and exterior areas (e.g. walkways, stairways, ramps, and parking lots) on the property; and
  • Report insufficient lighting lumens/brightness and coverage in interior (e.g. office, hallways, bathrooms) and exterior areas (e.g. walkways, stairways, ramps, and parking lots) on the property.

Inspection

  • Establish an inspection policy, which should outline the required frequency of inspections (for example, hourly or daily) of interior and exterior areas, as well as activities taken to report and address any safety hazards
  • Conduct regular inspections of the property’s interior and exterior areas; immediately report or address any of the following:
    • Slip, trip, or fall hazards
    • Garbage, broken glass, and other debris
  • Conduct regular inspection of the handrails, barriers, and railings to ensure they are sturdy

Maintenance

  • Establish a maintenance policy, which should outline detailed information as it relates to the following:
    • Preventative (scheduled) maintenance program, including maintenance schedule and actions taken to repair, clean, or remove any safety hazards
    • Demand (un-scheduled) maintenance program, including service level standards and actions taken to repair, clean, or remove any safety hazards
  • Conduct preventative and demand maintenance to interior and exterior areas; it should address the following:
    • Reporting safety hazards for repair, cleaning, or removal
    • Posting signage advising of safety hazards
    • Inspecting areas prior to allowing patrons to reaccess areas and removing safety signage
  • Establish a centralized documentation repository to contain inspection and maintenance reports and work orders

Signage

  • Deploy clear and visible safety hazard signage to draw attention to slip, trip, and fall hazards when the floor or ground surface is:
    • Awaiting maintenance
    • Undergoing maintenance
  • Deploy clear and visible wet floor signage to draw attention to wet and/or slippery areas and when the floor or ground is:
    • Awaiting maintenance
    • Undergoing maintenance or awaiting to dry up
  • Deploy perimeter barrier (such as caution tape or railings) to prevent access to specific area due to slip, trip, and fall hazards when the floor or ground surface is:
    • Awaiting maintenance
    • Undergoing maintenance
  • Post signage in interior and exterior areas that provides contact information for:
    • Emergency services
    • Maintenance request

Summary

Public entities should address slip, trip, and fall safety hazards to help ensure a safe and healthy environment for their staff and patrons. Through the development and implementation of a comprehensive risk management plan, appropriate measures can be put in place to help prevent injuries or death resulting from these accidents on their property.

If you have questions, please contact your Marsh representative.

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