Tag Archives: Slip & Fall

Slip and Fall Accident in Walk-in Cooler

Bryan J. Smith, PE, Construction Site Safety/Slip & Fall/OSHA Consultant ::::

Case Description/Summary: While preparing for an annual festival the plaintiff, a temporary employee of the property owner, was helping a frozen fish delivery person load the delivered products into an exterior walk-in cooler. The plaintiff loaded the product boxes onto a cart with intentions to pull the cart to the cooler’s interior metal ramp so that he didn’t have to carry each box individually. He never looked down at the ramp floor before stepping upon it.

The plaintiff’s walking actions were not those of a normal pedestrian walking upon a flat, level surface. He was on a sloped ramp that was 8.3% sloped from the normal plane (a moderately slight incline from a horizontal plane). Under normal walking conditions, this slope would be considered shallow and far from being excessive – even for pedestrians with walking difficulties. The steeper the slope, the more a pedestrian standing on it will have his weight (see black arrow in the illustration below) act to affect a slide down the ramp. As the weight is applied to the sloped surface, a portion of the weight vector will go “normal” (perpendicular – see yellow arrow) to the ramp’s surface. The remaining force vector of the weight would be applied parallel (see green arrow) to the sloped surface.

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Trip and Fall on Subway Stairs


Bryan J. Smith, PE, Construction Site Safety/Slip & Fall/OSHA Consultant ::::

Case Description/Summary: A subway station pedestrian (plaintiff) was walking up the stairs from the lower platform to the main station. As she approached the first of two mid-flight landings, she tripped and fell due to unknown reasons. Her fall caused her to break her leg.

Expert Analysis: The plaintiff stated that she had previously used the incident stairs, and that they were unusually dimly lit. The subway operators rarely assigned any transit cars to the platform served by the incident stairs. One day prior to the incident, the station’s maintenance department received a service call for drywall falling from the ceiling over the stairs. This was the only service performed on the stairs for the one-year period preceding the incident, and it evidenced that the stairway was able to reach the deteriorated condition due to either inadequate and/or incompetent maintenance management.

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The Perils of Winter


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::

The Problem: Winter in the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, can be a season of blizzards, ice storms, frozen water pipes, floods, and fallen trees. While we are rightfully concerned about these weather-related maladies, I am more concerned about slipping and falling on ice. If it happens to you and you are young, you may have injured only your pride or may be limping into spring.

But if you are 65 and older, unfortunately, you likely will end up with broken limbs, a broken hip, and/or a traumatic brain injury. The primary cause of injury for Americans 65 and older is falling on a hard surface, including ice.

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Watch Your Step!


Carl Berkowitz, Ph.D., PE, Transportation Safety Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: A 47-year-old woman slipped on the icy platform of the train station while boarding, causing her to fall into the gap between the railcar and the platform and suffered serious injuries.

Engineering Analysis: While the plaintiff was attempting to board the train, she stepped into the open gap between the platform and the railroad car. Even though the plaintiff’s right foot was already on the train, her left foot slipped due to an icy condition on the platform. It was argued that if the railroad car had been at the same level as the platform, and if the gap had been a reasonable four to seven inches wide, her foot would have merely slid onto the car and it would have been extremely unlikely she would have been injured. Testimony by railroad witnesses indicated the car was four to five inches higher than the platform, and the gap between the platform and the train was 12 inches.

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