Risk Management in Premises Liability

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Premises Liability and Risk Management

Premises-liability" law covers any type of claim that results from an allegedly "unreasonably dangerous condition" on the property. While commercial facilities such as grocery and retail stores, restaurants and malls are the most common targets due to the large volume of customers that enter their stores, all business owners who have a physical business location are at risk. But so are home owners and landlords, when guests or renters get injured because of some property condition.
Premises-liability claims typically are made by customers, employees, guests or tenants who sustain personal injuries as a result of a:

Slip, Trip and Fall Event
Malfunctioning Equipment
Falling Objects
Poor Lighting

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Risk Management in Premises Liability

  1. 1. “ Risk Management in Premises Liability” Design, Construction & Maintenance Johann F. Szautner, P.E., P.L.S. Cowan Associates, Inc.
  2. 2. The Accident <ul><li>A hazard exists </li></ul><ul><li>A person who is unaware of the hazard. </li></ul><ul><li>A foreseeable event </li></ul><ul><li>An unforeseeable event </li></ul>
  3. 3. Risks and Safety <ul><li>What is a Risk? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Safety? </li></ul><ul><li>Define Acceptable Risks </li></ul><ul><li>Define Un-acceptable Risk </li></ul><ul><li>System Analysis </li></ul>
  4. 4. System Life Cycle <ul><li>Conceptual Stage </li></ul><ul><li>Design & Development </li></ul><ul><li>Production, Fabrication & Construction </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution, Deployment & Operation </li></ul><ul><li>Disposal, Termination & Retirement </li></ul>
  5. 5. Hazard Identification <ul><li>Mechanical Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Electrical Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Kinetic Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Potential Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Thermal Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Acoustic Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Radiant Energy </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Hazards </li></ul><ul><li>Biological Hazards </li></ul>
  6. 6. Examples of Premises Liability <ul><li>Slip and Fall Accidents caused by slippery floors, standing water and foreign objects, ice and snow. </li></ul><ul><li>Trip and Fall Accidents caused by uneven floor surfaces, faulty steps, poor lighting and house keeping. </li></ul><ul><li>Falling objects from store shelves, adjacent construction work, dead or dying trees. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Additionally… <ul><li>Malfunctioning equipment, including automatic door closures, escalators and elevators. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of security, insufficient lighting and surveillance, lack of access controls and building and grounds features enabling criminal intent or facilitating accidents. </li></ul><ul><li>Pool drowning. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Codes & Standards <ul><li>Municipal Ordinances and Regulations </li></ul><ul><li>State Codes and Regulations – ICC, DEP, NFPA, Penn. DOT; </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Codes and Regulations –AASHTO, FEMA, OSHA, CPSC; </li></ul><ul><li>Industry Standards - ASTM, ANSI, ASSE, NSC, FM, UL; </li></ul>
  9. 9. Legal Doctrines <ul><li>Hills & Ridges </li></ul><ul><li>Trivial Defect </li></ul><ul><li>Attractive Display </li></ul><ul><li>Attractive Nuisance </li></ul><ul><li>Choice of Ways </li></ul>
  10. 10. GOLD STANDARD OR RED HERRING SR = 0.5 = safe walking? Maybe! People can walk on ice if they know that they are walking on ice.
  11. 11. Exterior Walkway Hazards <ul><li>An elevation difference of half of an inch or more is sufficient to cause a trip. </li></ul><ul><li>Slippery surfaces are marble, wood and ceramic tile, especially when wet. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Classic Trip & Fall
  13. 13. Not anticipated Slip & Fall
  14. 14. Walkway Hardware Hazards <ul><li>Grates, utility boxes, manhole covers, etc., should not be placed on walkways. </li></ul><ul><li>If they are, provide slip resistant covers, set flush with surrounding surface and inspect them on a regular basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Openings in grates shall be less than 0.5 inches in the direction of travel. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Obvious Trip & Fall?
  16. 16. The High Heel Trap
  17. 17. Parking Lot Hazards <ul><li>Pot Holes : Guard and/or sign them immediately and repair them as soon as practical. </li></ul><ul><li>Wheel Stops and Speed Bumps : Pedestrian tripping is very common, ASTM-F 1637 discourages its use. If used provide visual cues, such as traffic yellow paint, signage & adequate lighting. </li></ul><ul><li>Disabled Zones : Flared ramp transitions cause many tripping and stumbling accidents. Provide straight slope ramps whenever possible. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Outside: Slippery when wet
  19. 19. The Speed Bump – can you see it?
  20. 20. Darn Ramps
  21. 21. Interior Floor Surface Hazards <ul><li>Floor Transitions: Keep elevation differences at less than a quarter inch. Provide slip resistant edging. </li></ul><ul><li>Cleaning protocol : Restrict access to cleaning operations. Ascertain that finishes and detergents and buffing operations are compatible. </li></ul><ul><li>Use mats at entrances to prevent water and snow from being dragged in. Use mats in areas prone to spills of liquids. Use absorbent gripper mats with beveled edges. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Inside: Slippery when wet
  23. 23. Risk Management ???
  24. 24. Slip or Trip? Definitely a Fall
  25. 25. Close-up of the culprit
  26. 26. Short Cut Hazards <ul><li>Owner created or permitted pedestrian paths through lawn, shrubbery or other hazardous areas will imply owner’s responsibility for a safe walking surface. </li></ul><ul><li>If no path exists, pedestrian taking short cut assumes risks inherent to such environments. </li></ul><ul><li>Choice between maintained and un-maintained access. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Short Cut: You allow it – you maintain it
  28. 28. The Attractive Display <ul><li>Self service stores displays are purposefully arranged to distract the customer’s field of view from the aisles to eye level and higher display of goods. </li></ul><ul><li>Casinos use floor cover patterns and colors which have a tiring effect on customers forcing them to look up to the slot machines and gaming tables. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Attractive Display - quick look away!
  30. 30. The Single Step Fall <ul><li>Step not anticipated, visually concealed and/or poorly lit </li></ul><ul><li>IBC requires use of a ramp for changes of elevation < 12” within egress path </li></ul><ul><li>IBC defines single step as stairway </li></ul><ul><li>IBC prohibits single steps on accessible routes, except for use groups F, H, R-2 & R - 3 </li></ul><ul><li>IBC requires placement of one hand rail </li></ul>
  31. 31. A different single step fall
  32. 32. How to get in? How to get out?
  33. 33. Falls from Stairs <ul><li>Provide adequate landings </li></ul><ul><li>Provide consistent step dimensions </li></ul><ul><li>Provide slip resistant surface </li></ul><ul><li>Provide railings </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid visual camouflage </li></ul><ul><li>Provide adequate lighting </li></ul>
  34. 34. The peculiar stair stumble & fall
  35. 35. The usual stair stumble & fall
  36. 36. Hazard Resolution Sequence <ul><li>Accepted Hierarchy by NSC and ANSI : </li></ul><ul><li>Design to eliminate or minimize the hazard. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide guarding and safety devices. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide warning devices and signs. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide procedures and training, including personal protection equipment. </li></ul>
  37. 37. The Lead Foot Case
  38. 38. Open Manholes =
  39. 39. Risk Evaluation <ul><li>Analyzing prior claim & incident reports </li></ul><ul><li>Self-inspections </li></ul><ul><li>Maintenance protocol </li></ul><ul><li>Inclement weather precautions </li></ul><ul><li>Employee training </li></ul><ul><li>Health & safety plan </li></ul><ul><li>Guarding and signing </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring results </li></ul>
  40. 40. Manage Risk
  41. 41. Thank You for Listening, any Questions? <ul><li>?? </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul>

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