Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety/Slip, Trip and Fall 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 frozen fish boxes onto a cart and he intended to pull the cart up the cooler’s interior metal ramp so that he didn’t have to carry each individual box. He never looked down at the ramp floor before stepping upon it.
The plaintiff’s walking actions were not those of a normal pedestrian, just 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 a slope is, 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. This is because when weight is applied to a 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.
Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety / Slip, Trip and Fall Consultant
Case Description/Summary: A retail patron attempted to exit the establishment’s front entryway when a piece of raised duct tape on the flooring caught his toe causing him to trip and fall down the exterior steps of the facility. The plaintiff received serious and permanent injuries during this event.
Expert Analysis: A site survey was conducted approximately two years after the incident to gather evidence on behalf of the plaintiff. The building’s entryway threshold was found to have duct tape, similar to that seen in photos taken by the plaintiff at the time of the incident. (see photo below). It was apparent that the establishment’s owner/operator used the duct tape to secure loose rolled vinyl flooring at the door’s threshold position. The owner/operator would remove and reapply duct tape at that location “as-needed” when it became loose and detached. His actions established notice of the condition and the temporary nature of the duct tape “repair.”