Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention: Carpeting Risk

Consider this claims scenario:

A woman has arrived at a Louisiana healthcare facility on a rainy day. As she enters the building, she slips on slick flooring and falls. The healthcare facility is then held liable for injuries caused by the fall.

This scenario and others like it are far too common in healthcare facilities. The LHA Trust Funds finds that slips, trips and falls experienced by patients, visitors and workers are the number one cause of reported professional liability, general liability and workers compensation claims. In addition, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that 700,000 to 1 million hospitalized patients fall each year. Between 30 and 51 percent of such falls result in injury.

From a general liability perspective, LHA Trust Funds Risk Consultants have identified facility entrances and exits as a top risk area for falls, primarily because the mats that are placed just inside the building to absorb debris and moisture may deteriorate quickly. Some reasons for this include:

  • Mats may become saturated, allowing moisture to be tracked into the building.
  • Mats may not be of adequate size to provide complete coverage for absorbing moisture.
  • Edges of the mat may not lay flat, as you can see in the photo below. They curl, causing a person’s foot to catch in the rolled-up portion. Uneven edges are an obvious trip hazard, especially to individuals who use a cane or walker.

A growing number of Louisiana facilities have implemented a new strategy to lessen slip, trip and falls. They are removing problematic carpeted mats and replacing them with carpet squares like the ones pictured below. By placing these carpet squares at entrances, exits and in vestibules, the facility’s exposure to falls is greatly reduced.

Carpet squares have several advantages beyond the relatively low initial cost of installation such as:

  • They offer facilities the choice of spanning the length and width of the covered area, providing a larger surface to rid footwear of moisture and debris.
  • Control over the cleaning and maintenance of the area and the ability to change carpet squares when worn.
  • Worn, uneven and rolled-up mat edges no longer cause a trip hazard, particularly for pedestrians using walkers or canes.
  • Rental service fees associated with mats could be reduced.
  • In extremely wet conditions, mats can be used as a supplement to the carpet squares, offering added coverage.

Healthcare organization entrances and exits are high-traffic areas that many shoes, wheelchairs, walkers, and canes cross every day. Well-maintained carpet squares can have a positive impact on the reduction of slips, trips, and falls in these areas.

Learn More

Want more information about fall prevention? Visit the LHA Trust Funds Fall Prevention toolkit here.

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