Slips, trips and falls are no laughing matter. The National Safety Council reports that roughly 30,000 Americans die from falls each year, with most victims age 65 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million older people seek emergency-room treatment every year for fall injuries, which result in more than 800,000 hospital admissions.
For landlords and building owners, preventing slips, trips and falls is a critical part of property management. Ensuring the safety of tenants and visitors is a top priority, along with avoiding liability lawsuits.
Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
Searching online for “slips, trips and falls” turns up a frightening number of sites for personal injury attorneys. Fortunately, reducing the risk of these accidents typically comes down to good housekeeping and maintenance.
- Keep floors clean. Slick surfaces from inclement weather or occasional spills can lead to slips. Every building should have a plan for reporting, and responding to, hazardous conditions. After cleaning, post signs to alert passers-by that the area may be slippery.
- Use proper lighting. Poor lighting conditions often contribute to falls, especially on stairs and walkways. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly.
- Maintain sidewalks. During the winter, snow and ice on walkways can contribute to slips and falls. Sidewalk defects—including cracks, tree roots, and other trip hazards—can cause injuries year-round.
- Avoid clutter. Keep hallways, common areas, and storage areas free from clutter to reduce trips and falls. Communicate building housekeeping policies to tenants, and enlist their assistance in keeping the property safe.
- Safeguard stairs. Stairs are among the most dangerous areas and should receive special attention. Make sure any non-slip protection on the treads (e.g., carpet, pads, etc.) remains in working condition. Similarly, inspect railings on a regular basis to ensure they are secure.
- Inspect and correct. Overall, superintendents and landlords should conduct routine inspections, noting and repairing any conditions that require correction: fraying carpet, leaks, exposed cords, etc.
In addition to reducing the chances of slips, trips and falls, these practices have the added benefit of improving your overall building profile and helping you qualify for the best possible insurance rates.