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. Continue reading “The Perils of Winter”

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. Continue reading “Watch Your Step!”