Categorizing slip, trip and fall accident locations

There’s more to slip, trip and fall accidents than the skid resistance of flooring and the tread of the footwear.  The cause of an accident also varies with the location of the accident and these can be categorized. (Refs 1, 2)  When an expert is asked about cause at the case- or insurance-claim assessment stage, he wants to know about accident location.  The category tells him a lot

He thinks differently according to the category.  This is the same as him thinking differently according to the type of structure, component or material that fails in the built environment, as posted in earlier blogs. (Ref. 3)

You mention location in your briefing on the accident and the expert goes through the same process in forming an initial hypothesis on cause – an initial oral report – as for a structure that fails.  He considers::

  • Your briefing - The location, category, technical issues and facts in your description of the accident
  • His experience – What he’s learned investigating slip, trip and fall accidents
  • Published material – The helpful information out there – a lot – on the different categories of accident location

There are many categories. (Refs 1, 2):

  1. Level walkway surface
  2. Level walkway surface and water
  3. Floor mats - For example, mats can move as I found in one case
  4. Changes in level
  5. Lawns - Example, wet grassy slopes
  6. Ice and snow - Including black ice on a sloping asphalt driveway that I slipped and fell hard on last winter.  Also skating ice that I fell on a couple years ago but I was wearing my ski helmet and only hurt my pride
  7. Ladders - Reaching too far when on the upper rungs of a ladder and falling which happened to me a few years ago
  8. Porches and balconies
  9. Roads and sidewalks
  10. Parking areas
  11. Trucks - Getting in and out of trucks and also hurting yourself when securing load
  12. Work place and construction sites
  13. Residences (single and multi-family)
  14. Play grounds and recreational facilities
  15. Swimming pool decks and locker and shower rooms - Note how many have “Caution: slippery-when-wet signs”, and skid-resisting mats on dry sauna floors
  16. Saunas - Floors can get wet from water bottles and dripping bathing suits
  17. Ramps - I was very conscious recently of a very slight ramping-up to the entrance of a car show room.  It was subtle but there – and it was wet. 
  18. Bathrooms - Examples: walk in showers and tubs
  19. Kitchens
  20. Stairs
  21. Handrails and guardrails - Examples: rail graspability also rails that are too far apart on wide stairs
  22. Elevators - For example, when they don’t stop exactly at floor level
  23. Escalators

You might be interested in knowing that falls in the work place are the number one preventable loss type.  And in public places, falls are far and away the leading cause of injury. (Ref. 1)  There are lots of work places and lots of public places as can be seen in the above list.

I haven’t seen them but I’m certain percentages have been worked out for the occurrence of accidents at each of the above locations.  Also, on looking closer at each location, I’m certain percentages have been worked out for the following different elements in a slip, trip or fall accident at each location: (Ref. 4):

  1. Surface covering
  2. Lubricant
  3. Shoe (slider)
  4. Ambient parameters
  5. Activity

And looking closer still at each location, I’m certain percentages exist of accidents that can be traced back to each of the following: (Ref. 1):

  1. Design of the physical location
  2. Managing the location
  3. Maintaining it
  4. Monitoring the location

Categorizing the location of slip, trip and fall accidents like this can help determine the cause of an accident.  This is similar to categorizing the structures in the built environment as a means of determining the cause of failure of one of the structures there or one of the components.  This categorizing is why an expert can give you some understanding of cause at the case- or claim-assessment stage.

We categorize people to help a society function – and this works when done thoughtfully.  Why not categorize accident locations to help determine cause?


  1. Di Pilla, Steven, Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention; A Practical Handbook, 2nd ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton 2010
  2. Sotter, George, Stop Slip and Fall Accidents!: A Practical Guide, 2nd ed., Sotter Engineering Corporation, Mission Viejo, CA 2014
  3. Jorden, Eric E., Update: Where does an expert’s initial hypothesis come from?  Posted March 18, 2019
  4. Sebald, Jenn, System oriented concept for testing and assessment of the slip resistance of safety, protective and occupational footwear, Berlin 2009


Comments are closed.