Michael Siegle, of the General Mat Company, a witness in workers’ compensation and public liability court cases says Australian employers and public building managers face potentially huge payouts if they continue to underestimate dangers posed by slip and fall accidents.

“Safety measures such as signage, protective clothing, safety glasses, hearing protection and helmets are all very worthy in their own right but count for little if a worker or customer slips over on a damp or greasy surface,” he says. “As a country, we seem to have something of a blind spot for safety underfoot.”

One recent successful prosecution involved the proprietor of a public building who had maintained safe underfoot conditions until a visitor came in from the rain and spread water about the floor. Despite this fact, when she subsequently slipped, the judgement said the building owner was liable because he should have provided flooring that provided for this contingency.

Recent figures show that Australian industry now has well over 20,000 new workers compensation cases a year relating to falls, slips and trips. Such cases are inextricably linked with the safety of floor surfaces, says Siegle, noting that the slip resistance of any surface is determined by the Coefficient of Friction on the Surface. The higher the coefficient of friction reading, the less slippery a surface. “Coefficient of Friction has become an important measure of performance for floor surfaces and to the anti-fatigue and safety matting industry. To guard against slip and fall accidents, a static COF of. 5 has been recommended - similar standards of protection will arrive in Australia - it is not a question of if, but when.”

Source: Building Products News.