Slips, Trips, and Falls

Each year, falls account for over 8 Million emergency room visits. It is important to understand the types of falls, how to document them, what their causes are, and what the newest industry safety recommendations are when approaching each unique case.

The trouble with falls...

Falls are particularly dangerous because the conditions that create them often go unobserved or misevaluated. A little water on the floor, an uneven floor mat, or variance in the height of a step are often small, these subtle changes in the environment create low lying hazards which often go unnoticed. As a result, individuals often fail to perceive a hazard until they are on top of it when it is too late.

Making things worse, people often interchange the terms slip, trip, and misstep when describing what happened. Understanding the differences between the types of falls, knowing what kinds of documentation and testing and needed, and a thorough understanding of the science involved is critical for your cases success.

Slip or Trip?

A slip occurs when there is too little traction between your foot and the walking surface. This sudden and unexpected change in surface conditions can cause a sudden loss of balance and potential fall.

Trips occur when your foot or leg comes in contact with a hazard while walking. The momentum from the upper body continues to move while the tripped leg stays stationary for a moment, causing instability and a potential fall.

Applicable Regulations and Industry Safety Standards

Depending on where and how a fall occurs, several different regulations may apply. Building codes, the Americans with Diasbilities Act, OSHA, standard design plans, and local ordinances can all apply. Further industry watchdog groups like the National Safety Council and the American Society for Testing and Materials work to develop and update standards of care for the design, maintenance, testing, and thresholds for safety walking surfaces.

Documentation, Testing, and Evidence Preservation

Often the most critical piece of the fall injury puzzle is the proper recording of evidence. Slips require the use of tribometric testing devices to determine the available slip resistance or the surface friction available on the floor. Trips require the clear and precise measurement of uplift height, treatment, and location. 

Environmental Factors

All falls also require the documentation of surrounding environmental factors. Some factors that are often considered are lighting, weather, the presence or lack of visual ques, blind corners and other vision obscuring factors, distractions, and whether the hazard is present within a victim's principal cone of vision. Each of these factors will often compete for a persons attention. When overwhelmed with external stimuli, people often miss fall hazards until they are on top of them.

Contact Us

Have a case you'd like to discuss? Fill out our form and we will get back to you!


Want to stay up to date with what we're doing? Subscribe to our newsletter!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.