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.