PARKING LOT INJURIES
In today’s day and age, injuries are a common sight. Parking lots account for at least 50,000 car accidents, over 500 deaths, and 60,000 injuries annually. So, the big question is, who is responsible for an injury? Generally, the owner of a parking lot has a duty to take reasonable care in the management of the parking lot. This duty means that the management company must ensure that people who use the lot are not injured. Most parking lots are treated the same as a walking surface and are held to the same local and federal safety standards as other walkways.
WHAT CAUSES TRIPS?
The foot slipping or over-stretching causes a trip during the swing phase forward motion. As we walk, our foot is raised slightly above the ground. Suppose the forward movement of the leading foot is stopped mid-stride; in that case, the body will continue moving and the center of gravity moves to result in the loss of balance and eventually falling. Obstacles that interrupt the natural stride are considered trip hazards. Examples of trip hazards commonly encountered in parking lots include:
- Decayed and Misaligned Surfaces
- Irregular Curbs
- Wheel Stops
- Speed Bumps
PARKING LOT SAFETY
Safety calls for walkways to be stable, flush, and even to the extent possible. Listed below are some of the terms used in parking lot injuries.
Stable — Walkways, pavement, and flooring should generally resist movement when walked upon. Walking on loose surfaces that move under normal circumstances may result in losing balance. Unstable walking surfaces include loose concrete, wobbly or broken asphalt, or concrete.
Flush | Even — Walkways should generally be free of irregular raised or sunken areas. Objects sticking up from the surface can cause unexpected changes in surface height, cause trip incidents, create slick spots with ice, or even flood with overflow water.
(According to premise safety experts at Robson Forensics who are frequently retained to investigate cases such as falls and slips related to parking lots, sidewalks, ramps, and stairs irregularities up to ¼” in height can create considerable risk for trip hazards.)
PREVENTING PARKING LOT INJURIES
The National Safety Council states that pedestrian safety must be considered in parking lots. According to safety codes of public health and general welfare, all defects in parking lots walking surfaces require maintaining exterior walkways, providing stable, flush, even surfaces, and addressing any changes in elevation measuring ¼” or more.
Rapid deterioration happens quickly in areas that have snow, ice, and snow removal procedures. Some recommended strategies to prevent injuries are seasonal inspections, cleaning of drainage systems, and cleaning of vehicle fluids such as gasoline and car oil. Periodic inspections of hazards such as potholes, alligator cracking, cracks, visible signs of distress, and any elevation changes can help and fix issues before they become big problems. Once distressed pavements have been identified, property managers should make an actionable plan. Temporary measures are made to reduce the hazard and last less than a year; an example is foam jacking. Short-term measures typically last one to five years, like seal coats, chip seals, slurries, etc. Long-term measures include concrete and asphalt resurfacing with OXCON Systems, Mill and Overlay for asphalt, and full tear-out and replacement with concrete.
For more in-depth information about parking lot trip hazards visit the experts at Robson Forensics: