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Poor slip resistance leads to slip and falls, study shows

Floors produce what is called a dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) level, and higher ones denote better slip resistance. In a CNA study of slip-and-fall accidents, researchers found that 50 percent of the surveyed sites had floors that did not pass the minimum DCOF threshold of 0.42, which was set by the American National Standards Institute. This should give some business owners in Ohio and across the US cause for concern.

Researchers studied all of the slip-and-fall liability claims over a six-year period and found that while these incidents are frequent, they tend to result in minor injuries. However, some people did suffer from traumatic brain injuries, leading to many general liability claims to be filed rather than workers' compensation ones. The accidents occurred most often in entryways followed by parking lots and sidewalks leading to entrances.

The most frequent sites for slip-and-fall accidents were real estate and retail businesses. Researchers advise that all businesses, however, take steps to avoid accidents from occurring. Flooring selection is crucial. The materials must be slip-resistant, especially when wet, and meet the minimum DCOF threshold. A tribometer can measure DCOF levels. Cleaning agents must be compatible with the flooring type and used according to the manufacturers' guidelines. Walkways also should be free of debris and other contaminants.

When poor slip resistance leads to injuries, victims should see if they have a valid case under premises liability law. A lawyer can hire investigators to test the flooring and find out how the business owner has been maintaining them, if at all. An attorney must factor in any contributive negligence when estimating a settlement. For example, if the victim was carrying items that blocked his or her vision, this may lower the amount of the possible settlement. The lawyer can then negotiate with the other party's insurance company.

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