A slip and fall injury can sometimes elicit the giggles and snickers of onlookers because most people have been conditioned by movies and television shows to laugh at someone slipping and falling on shiny floors. However, these types of falls can result in serious injuries and also have potential lawsuits attached to them. In the corporate world, slip and fall accidents cause almost $35 billion per year in direct and indirect financial damage. Slip and fall accidents are serious business, which is why shiny floors can pose a real danger.
SEPTA’s Shiny Floors At 8th And Market
In February 2016, an interesting article about the shiny floors at SEPTA’s station at 8th and Market Streets showed that maybe SEPTA should take the dangers of shiny floors seriously. A picture in the article, which can be seen here, shows how expansive the shiny floors are, which raises plenty of questions about slip and fall accidents. While SEPTA indicated that they had not been informed of any slip and fall accidents associated with the floors, that does not mean that the danger is not real.
How Bad Can These Floors Be?
Shiny floors get their sheen from either the natural slick state of the material used to make the floors (marble, for example), the materials used to clean the floors, or a clear coat of protectant put on the floors to prevent damage. Even if a shiny floor is properly cleaned, the accumulation of moisture that occurs when people walk on it creates a serious slipping hazard.
Potential lawsuits are also a problem, especially for the companies that make the cleaning products for shiny floors. Some insurance companies will not completely cover the damages for a slip and fall victim because the insurance companies see the responsibility falling on the company that made or cleaned the floor. When insurance companies limit coverage, then the money to pay for a victim’s injuries comes out of the companies involved in floor construction or maintenance. These lawsuits cost companies billions of dollars each year, and some of the victims receive injuries that alter their lives permanently.
What Can Be Done About The Slippery Floors?
Most flooring materials come with a number referred to as the dynamic coefficient of friction. In the flooring industry, a coefficient of .42 is considered the standard for creating floors with the proper amount of friction to help prevent slip and falls. SEPTA uses an old federal standard that allows for a higher coefficient of .60 to be used. The higher the coefficient, the more slippery the floor is.
One of the things that SEPTA and other public agencies can do to reduce the chance of someone getting hurt in a slip and fall accident is to take the .42 coefficient in mind when they are planning remodeling projects. While it can be expensive to take out an existing floor and put a new one in place, the accidents prevented by the more efficient floor would be worth it.
Public agencies can also talk to their cleaning companies about compounds and substances that are designed to leave a layer of friction on shiny floors after the floors are cleaned. These compounds are not quite as efficient as a floor with a lower friction coefficient, but they can help on those days when it is raining or snowing outside and people are making the shiny floors even worse by bringing in moisture.
The simplest and least expensive way to handle slip and fall accidents is to put up warning signs about the floors and cover high traffic areas with special slip-resistant rugs. These rugs are able to grab onto the slick surface and hold themselves in place while people walk over them. But even rugs are not going to prevent serious injuries in the same way that a better floor would.
What Should You Do If You Slip and Fall At A Station?
It is difficult for SEPTA to deny that their floors are slippery, which means that a slip and fall victim should consider filing a claim. But before you set out to start legal action for your injuries, your first course of action should be to get medical help immediately. The injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident are not always readily apparent in the moments after your fall. That is why you should see your doctor or get emergency medical assistance if necessary before you start filing a claim.
SEPTA does have remodeling projects planned for several of its stations, but it is unclear if the floor issue will be addressed in these projects. In the meantime, people who use SEPTA stations should be careful when walking across the station floors, and keep an eye out for the yellow cones that warn if a floor is wet.