Slippery Surface Sidelines Contractor


Bryan J. Smith, PE, Construction Site Safety / Slip, Trip & Fall / OSHA Expert ::::
Case Description/Summary: A painting contractor (plaintiff) was walking down an exterior home walkway after dropping off a quote for work requested by the homeowner. It just started raining, so the plaintiff decided to take a different route back to his parked car when he tripped and fell over an unguarded retaining wall. As a consequence of his trip and fall, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries. No guardrail had been present at the incident location, which could have prevented his four-foot fall. It had been dark and raining and the adjacent exterior home lighting was not turned on.
Expert Analysis: The plaintiff stated that he was walking on a flagstone walkway back to his vehicle, which was a different route from the one he used to get onto the incident property. He originally used a concrete sidewalk that bordered the large corner lot property to get to the front door of the house. Since it had started raining heavily just after he got to the porch, he decided to take the alternate flagstone side walkway as a shortcut back to his car. Just when he rounded the side of the house’s porch, he tripped over the edge of an unlighted and unguarded stone retaining wall and fell four feet to a concrete driveway below. The incident caused severe permanent injuries to the plaintiff.
The defendant’s expert argued that the property was constructed prior to the adoption of the building codes which required guardrails at every open walking surface that was 30 inches or more than adjacent lower surfaces, and hence it was “grandfathered” from compliance. He also argued that the flagstone pathway was not a “pathway” or even intended to be used as a walkway – but was in place solely for reason of erosion control of the sloped ground there. Continue reading “Slippery Surface Sidelines Contractor”

Black Ice and the Pedestrian

Lt. Col. Bryan T. Smith, PE, Construction Site Safety / OSHA expert ::::
Case Description/Summary: While walking on the sidewalk in front of a retail establishment on her way to a waiting car, the plaintiff stepped onto a “black ice” patch, which caused her to slip and fall and sustain multiple injuries. Plaintiff sued the property managers and the snow removal contractor.
Expert Analysis: Photos taken and an inspection report showed that the incident sidewalk surface had been covered with ice days after a snowfall event. The two property managers (one for the overall property and a lower tier property manager for landscaping and snow removal) blamed their snow removal contractor for full responsibility.
The snow removal contractor contended that they removed the snow that had fallen during the weather event and that they were not responsible for ice created by thaw/refreeze events. The snow removal contractor had videotaped a defective condition with the roof gutters that caused leaking and dripping onto the sidewalk below the roof overhang about a month prior to the incident and emailed it to the lower tier property manager. The lower tier property manager took no action to investigate the report, or to correct the cause and also failed to inform the overall property manager of the reported dripping problem. Continue reading “Black Ice and the Pedestrian”