Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of injury and disability for people in Illinois and across the country. Slip-and-fall accidents result in approximately nine million visits to emergency rooms every year, according to the National Safety Council. In addition, falls are the most common work-related injury that affects employees across all industries. One million workplace injuries and 16,000 on-the-job deaths are attributed to slip-and-fall incidents each year, as reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These staggering statistics have led many people to investigate the common causes of slip-and-fall accidents and research the best ways of how to prevent them. An Illinois personal injury lawyer understands that slip-and-fall accidents are almost always avoidable. When people fail to recognize common fall hazards, however, they are putting themselves and others at risk.
The National Floor Safety Institute indicates that slip-and-fall accidents are common in the United States. In fact, falls are the leading reason why people visit the emergency room. They are also the leading cause of occupational injury and workers’ compensation claims across all industries. According to the NSC and OSHA, there are many obstacles that can lead to a slip-and-fall accident. Here are five things to avoid.
1. Wet or slippery surfaces
From liquid spills to freshly waxed floors, wet and slippery surfaces can create an environment where people are at an increased risk of falling. In order to avoid an accident, spills should be cleaned up promptly. A sign should also be placed near the spill or on freshly waxed floors warning people of the slippery conditions. If a spill cannot be cleaned up right away, or if there are floors that are consistently wet and slippery due to weather conditions, signs should indicate this as well. According to a report published by Stanford University, the following items can easily create a slippery or wet floor surface:
- Cleaning products
- Body fluids, such as vomit or blood
- Water and fluids accumulated from plumbing leaks, ice machines or spills
- Rain water brought in from pedestrians’ shoes and/or umbrellas
Certain types of flooring can be especially slippery, and may require the use of special mats or rugs. These mats should be slip resistant and have rounded edges to keep them from becoming a tripping hazard as well. It’s a good idea to place mats at the entrances of a building and in busy paths of heavy foot traffic in order to prevent slippery floors.
2. Clutter or foreign objects
Whether there are boxes stacked up along a busy walkway or there is random debris and clutter littering the floor, foreign objects can become a dangerous hazard. Even cords or cables strung alongside or across a hallway can trip an unsuspecting passerby. All walkways and floors should remain free from clutter or any other objects that may cause someone to stumble, trip and fall.
3. Uneven floor surfaces
People can catch their feet on torn carpet, cracked floors and loose floorboards while walking, which can cause them to trip and/or fall. Flooring that has transition areas, or places where the floor changes from one type to another, can also cause a trip-and-fall accident. This might occur when a tiled floor turns into a carpeted floor. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the type of floor material used can directly contribute to a slip-and-fall accident. This factor alone is responsible for more than 2 million fall cases each year.
4. Improper lighting
Poor lighting conditions can make it difficult for people to see where they are going when walking through passages, on staircases, in basements or along normal pathways. Bad lighting can also hide debris, clutter and other obstacles that may be lurking in the walkways. Proper lighting can help people see where they are going and get ready for what lies ahead.
5. Poor weather conditions
Rain, snow, ice, fall leaves, mud and other debris can present serious slip-and-fall hazards for customers and employees alike, a fact known by an Illinois personal injury lawyer. This debris can be tracked inside a building, making aisles and walkways wet and slippery. Not only that, but the walkways and parking areas surrounding a store or home can also be dangerous to navigate in inclement weather conditions. Property owners are responsible for keeping their areas free from snow and ice that may accumulate on sidewalks, stairs and parking lots.
Types of slip-and-fall injuries
Falls can lead to a variety of different injuries, including traumatic brain injury, herniated discs, bone fractures and even neurological damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury in the U.S. The forceful impact of a fall can cause the brain to hit against the inside of the bony skull, causing it to bruise, bleed and swell. A fractured vertebrae or slipped intervertebral disc can cause damage to the spinal cord and create chronic pain for fall victims. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, 87 percent of bone fractures affecting people who are 65 years of age and older are attributed to falls.
Recovering from a fall accident
While some fall injuries are minor, others can be catastrophic and lead to lifelong disabilities. Fall victims may have to undergo multiple surgical procedures, physical therapy and take medication in order to deal with their injuries. In some cases, people may not be able to enjoy the same hobbies and quality of life that they experienced prior to the falling incident. An Illinois personal injury lawyer understands these difficulties and, in some cases, may be able to help the victims of slip-and-fall accidents recover compensation for their injuries.