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New Standard to Judge Slip and Fall Risk

Anyone who has ever suffered a slip and fall accident, whether in the grocery store, a busy restaurant, or simply out on the street or sidewalk during winter, has experienced the unique embarrassment that comes with such a fall. They are usually not graceful, and they somehow always seem to take place in front of a large group, all of whom are simultaneously sympathetic and amused.

Yet these accidents usually have greater consequences than mere humiliation. According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 2 million Americans went to the emergency room after an accidental slip and fall in 2007. Further, the CDC has declared that elderly accidental falls are a national epidemic, costing the United States economy over $40 billion each year.

Because of the high costs, both physical and financial, associated with such injuries, the National Floor Safety Institute has announced a new safety standard designed to help business owners test the potential for slips and falls on any hard surface flooring. The standard, named ANSI/NFSI B101.1, aims to help property owners and managers the tools with which to prevent slip and fall injuries due to slippery or otherwise dangerous floors.

The standard categorizes walkway slip resistance into either high, moderate, or low levels of traction. A floor designated as having high traction will carry a low risk of a slip and fall injury. Such categories may provide a new legal tool in slip and fall cases, allowing property owners to be held accountable for their traction rating, as well as their failure to change it if an improvement is warranted.

According to NFSI founder Russ Kendzior, property owners should not hesitate in using the new standard. "Business owners are encouraged to have their floors tested to determine into which traction range their floors fall," he said, adding that he recommends using an NFSI Certified Walkway Auditor.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "New Standard Released for Testing Hard Surface Flooring", 13 December 2010

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