Slip and Fall Hazards in the Workplace

By Osborne & Francis
July 18, 2024

Slip and fall accidents in the workplace are common and remarkably serious. More than 1,000 workers die yearly in these types of incidents. In 2020, 211,640 workers suffered injuries so severe they required days off.

These accidents place a heavy financial burden on the victim. The average incident costs $20,000 in medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.

You may be eligible to file a lawsuit if someone else’s negligence caused you to be hurt in a slip and fall accident at work. Learn more by calling Osborne & Francis at 561-293-2600 or contacting us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in the Workplace

Understanding the reasons these accidents happen is vital for preventing them and ensuring the safety of employees. Here’s a look at some of the common causes.

Wet or Slippery Floors

Wet or slippery floors can result in devastating injuries. This hazard can occur due to several reasons, including the following:

  • Spills: Liquids from coffee, water, or other substances can create slippery surfaces if not promptly cleaned.
  • Recent cleaning: Floors cleaned with water or cleaning solutions can remain wet and slippery, posing a risk to employees if cleaning personnel don't take proper drying measures.
  • Leaks: Leaking pipes, roof leaks, or even water tracked in from outside can create slippery conditions.

Cluttered Work Areas

Workspaces cluttered with tools, equipment, materials, or debris can obstruct walkways and create tripping hazards. This clutter can accumulate in various workplace settings, from manufacturing floors to office spaces. Maintaining clear pathways and organized spaces will significantly reduce the risk of accidents. 

Uneven Surfaces or Damaged Flooring

These hazards include torn carpeting, loose tiles, or potholes in industrial settings. Employers should conduct regular inspections to identify and address any issues with floor surfaces. Maintenance efforts should include repairs or replacements to ensure that the flooring is safe for employees to walk on. Neglecting such repairs can lead to accidents that result in injuries and liability concerns for employers.

Inadequate Lighting

Poorly lit areas can obscure hazards, making it difficult for employees to see potential dangers. This issue is particularly critical in areas with frequent foot traffic, such as corridors, stairwells, and loading docks. Adequate lighting is not only essential for general visibility but also for highlighting potential hazards effectively. 

Exposed Cables or Wires

Exposed cables or wires present a tripping hazard in the workplace. These can include electrical cords, computer cables, or other wires that are not adequately secured. When these items lay across walkways or workspaces, employees may inadvertently trip over them

It's vital to manage cables and wires to minimize this risk safely. Employers can use cable management systems, such as cable trays or clips, to secure and organize cables to prevent tripping incidents.

Preventative Measures and Best Practices

To effectively mitigate slip and fall hazards in the workplace, employers should adopt a comprehensive approach that includes the following preventive measures and best practices:

  • Regular inspections and maintenance: Employers should establish a routine inspection and maintenance schedule for their premises. This routine should include checking for wet or slippery surfaces, addressing damaged flooring, ensuring proper lighting, and securing cables and wires.
  • Proper signage: Adequate signage is essential for alerting employees and visitors to hazards such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or other dangers. Warning signs should be clear, visible, and properly placed to communicate the risk effectively.
  • Employee training: All employees should receive training on safety protocols, explicitly recognizing and reporting hazards. Training programs should teach employees how to navigate the workplace safely and contribute to maintaining a hazard-free environment.
  • Footwear requirements: Employers must establish appropriate footwear requirements, including slip-resistant soles. 
  • Organizational practices: Employers maintain organized workspaces by providing storage solutions, enforcing clean workspaces, and establishing equipment and material storage guidelines.

Determining Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents

Determining liability in slip and fall accidents is a complex process that involves several key factors. These include the following:

Duty of Care

Employers have a legal responsibility, often called a "duty of care," to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. This duty includes identifying and rectifying potential hazards promptly. Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent slip and fall accidents.

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty occurs when an employer fails to uphold their responsibility to keep employees safe. They may, for instance, fail to address known hazards, implement effective safety measures, or comply with relevant regulations and standards. 

To establish a breach of duty, the plaintiff (the injured party in a personal injury case) must show that the employer's actions or inactions deviated from what a reasonable employer would do in similar circumstances.

Causation

Causation in slip and fall cases involves demonstrating a direct link between the breach of duty and the slip and fall accident. In other words, it’s essential to prove that the hazardous condition directly led to the accident. Establishing causation can be complex, often involving gathering evidence, witness testimonies, and expert analysis.

Damages

Finally, the plaintiff must prove they incurred damages or financial losses due to the breach of duty committed by the defendant. 

Economic damages typically encompass tangible losses such as medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages include intangible losses like emotional distress and loss of quality of life.

Recovering Damages After a Slip and Fall

Recovering damages after a slip and fall accident may involve several key components. Here are just a few.

Medical Expenses

Victims of slip and fall accidents are entitled to compensation for medical expenses related to immediate and ongoing care. This compensation includes hospital bills, surgical procedures, rehabilitation costs, prescription medications, and other necessary medical treatments. Proper documentation of medical expenses is crucial for accurately assessing damages.

Lost Wages

Victims may be entitled to compensation for lost wages if the slip and fall accident results in time off work due to injury. Victims should keep records of missed workdays and wage information to support their claims.

Pain and Suffering

Attorneys also consider non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, when determining compensation. These damages address the physical and emotional distress experienced by the victim due to the accident. 

The Legal Process

After a slip and fall accident, taking the following steps is essential to obtaining maximum compensation. These steps often make the difference in whether a victim gets the money they deserve.

  • Seek immediate medical attention: Seeking prompt medical attention ensures injuries are correctly diagnosed and treated.
  • Report the incident: The victim must report the slip and fall incident to the employer or property owner as soon as possible. This report establishes a record of the accident and the hazardous conditions that led to it.
  • Gather evidence: Victims should collect evidence related to the accident, including photographs of the hazard, witness statements, and any relevant documentation, such as medical records and accident reports.
  • Consult with an attorney: An attorney can help navigate the legal process, assess liability, and pursue compensation for the injured individual.

Contact Osborne and Francis to Speak with an Experienced Slip and Fall Accident Attorney

If you've experienced a slip and fall accident in the workplace, it's crucial to seek legal advice to protect your rights. Osborne & Francis attorneys will help you find the justice you deserve. Call 561-293-2600 or use our online form for a free consultation.

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