Property Owners Beware: Slips and Falls Ranked #1 Legal Dispute in Real Estate

This month, the editors of the Eagle Mat Blog have been enthusiastic about sharing a new report that has property owners re-thinking the conventional wisdom of slip and fall accidents. The report, published as a case study by American insurance company CNA, takes a fresh look at the nature of slip and fall accidents. Viewing an old problem from a new perspective, CNA made the argument that slip and fall accidents are primarily the product of poor slip resistance. This is a departure from traditional thoughts on slips, trips, and falls, in which the accident is caused by the individual’s own lack of judgment, coordination, or balance.

In addition to shining a new light on an age-old problem, the CNA case study also ascertained an illuminating statistic regarding the prevalence of slip and fall accidents. Since CNA used a commercial/ public space as the setting for their case study, their investigation concluded that slip and fall accidents were the #1 most common business dispute encountered by an estimated 60% of property owners. An even larger percentage of property owners– a reported 80%– say slip and fall disputes rank amongst the top 3 disputes handled each year.

In this light, the CNA case study confirms what the Liberty Mutual Research Institute also reported in the 2010 Workplace Safety Index: Slip and fall accidents are big problem for homeowners and businesses alike.

New Report Defies Conventional Wisdom on Accidents

The conventional school of thought on slip and fall accidents is as follows: Slips, trips, and falls occur are the result of human error. Such error could include instances of forgetfulness, such as neglecting to tie a shoelace. Or, it could be manifest itself as poor coordination, resulting in mis-steps, trips, and falls. No matter how the error occurs, we typically hold the individual accountable.

According to CNA, however, slips and falls are primarily caused by floor surfaces that have a fundamental lack of slip resistance. In the study, CNA General Liability Risk Control Director Dave Ludwin explains:

“While the casual observer might thank that most falls are attributable to footwear or the type of material a floor is made from, it’s actually how and by whom a floor is cleaned that causes slips and falls.”

Additionally, the CNA study found a decrease in the prevalence of slip and fall accidents to correspond with thorough floor cleaning and maintenance. This correlation is explained by the simple fact that properly cleaned floors, including those with safety mats and runners, have more friction. With greater friction comes improved slip resistance and a feeling of traction that makes it more difficult to lose one’s footing.

CNA Releases New Techniques for Accident Prevention

As a result of the case study, CNA has issued a variety of new techniques and recommendations for preventing slip and fall accidents. Not surprisingly, many of these tips focus on properly cleaning floor surfaces, floor mats, runners, and other walking surfaces. A few of these new tips include:

  • Make a proactive effort to find and implement slip-resistant flooring when building, remodeling, or expanding a facility.
  • Know when additional materials (i.e. treatments, sealants, etc.) are needed to enhance slip resistance.
  • Monitor cleaning personnel and ensure they use the proper cleaning materials.
  • Review cleaning protocol to make sure maintenance has a firm understanding of what is expected, and how often.
  • Safety Mats, Runners, & Other Fixtures: Make sure personnel know how to clean and maintain safety flooring devices like commercial floor mats, recessed grill systems, carpet runners. etc.
  • Implement a good mat program. According to the CNA, “One of the surest ways to prevent the transmission of dirt, water, and other materials from the outdoors to the interior of the facility is to implement a good mat program.”

Visit this article on the Eagle Mat Blog to learn more about CNA’s new techniques for preventing slips and falls.

Implement a Mat Program with Eagle Mat and Floor Products

With more than 30 years experience and expertise, Eagle Mat proudly represents the finest in safety flooring, commercial floor mats, and other facility safety equipment. Our customer service team is available to help your organization create a safety matting program that will keep facilities clean, dry, and safe year-round.

For additional information, including product consultation and specifications, contact our team online or call toll free 877-333-1018.


(i) For full access to the CNA report, click here.

(ii) Download this press release.