April 3, 2015

Most of us are familiar with the term “slippery when wet”. Yet few of us know the scientific role that friction plays when liquids interact with certain surfaces. For example, a normally slip resistant marble floor can instantly become a slip hazard with the addition of just a few ounces of water. The answer is friction, or more specifically, the coefficient of friction or COF.

The coefficient of friction is the metric that safety experts use to gauge the slipperiness of flooring. Put simply, the COF of a particular surface represents the amount of resistance a human foot might encounter as it moves across that floor. Safety experts today use sophisticated devices to measure a floor’s horizontal resistance to vertical downward force. To get some context on this, let’s compare the COF of ice to a swept concrete sidewalk. For ice, the typical COF is 0.3, whereas swept concrete has a COF of 0.8.

Premises liability is a legal concept that generally stands for the proposition that property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care when maintaining the safety of their properties. This level of care increases depending on how the property owner uses his or her property. For example, the owner of a grocery store might be expected to mop up any milk spilled in the dairy aisle during normal business hours. However, that duty will likely diminish once the store has closed and the doors have been locked.

Pennsylvania residents who have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident need to know their rights. That’s why a consultation with a slip and fall personal injury attorney can be helpful. Under normal conditions, people can usually walk safely on surfaces with COF measurements higher than 0.4. However, it’s important to know that the COF of any surface can diminish significantly with the introduction of semi-solids or liquids. An attorney with some experience in these types of accidents can examine the facts of each case and determine whether an injured victim should seek compensation through the courts. If successful, a civil lawsuit can recover medical expenses and other related costs and restore them to the victim.

Source: National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, “Inspecting Slip-Resistant Flooring in Commercial Buildings,” Nick Gromicko, accessed April. 03, 2015