Common Problem Areas for Slips, Trips, and Falls
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Most personal injuries that happen on church property are related to slips, trips, and falls. These incidents can be significantly reduced or prevented through continued care and maintenance of the facility. Considering the amount of traffic, time of year, and the physical considerations of people who use an area will help your church prioritize repairs and schedule maintenance.
Sidewalks, gravel paths, or other exterior walkways can present a 24-hour tripping or falling hazard. These areas are used both by community members and church members and should be inspected on a regular basis. Make note of cracks, bulges, and other inconsistencies on the walking path and schedule needed repairs with your local government (if publicly owned) or contact a local contractor for repairs.
Whether it is molding for a door frame or a sliding welcome mat, building entrances can provide a major hazard. If you use mats at any entrance, make sure they are water absorbent and non-slip. They should have beveled edges, be at least 3/8 of an inch thick, and be large enough not to curl or slide easily. If church finances permit, permanently-installed recessed mats are preferred. Thresholds or saddles within the doorways should be grooved and no more than 3/4 of an inch high and should slope at the edges to minimize tripping hazards. Using carpet on interior flooring of the church provides a significantly better slip-resistant surface than tile or wood flooring.
Proper signage through your church facility will communicate important safety concerns to your church members. “Please Walk” and “Watch Your Step” signs make members and visitors aware of potentially dangerous areas. Stairs should be noted through the building and tread riser heights should be about seven inches and tread depths should be about 11 inches. Handrails should be on both sides of the steps and placed 34-38 inches above the enclosed steps. Treating stair surfaces with non-slip material will help secure the footing of individuals using your facilities. Also, all staircases should be adequately lit during operating hours.
Even after taking all those precautions, there still will be the potential for some individuals to trip. Whether it is food dropped on the floor at the potluck, an extension cord, a coffee spill in the hallway, crayons, balls, toy trucks, etc. there simply is no way to completely prevent a fall. Monitoring floors during and after events to ensure that spills and debris are promptly cleaned and using proper signage and cleaning procedures will reduce the opportunity for an incident. Extension cords and other tripping hazards should be taped down and secured properly throughout the building as well.
This time of social distancing is the perfect time to take care of these potential hazards as your church begins to reopen its facilities. Your church and church members will be safer for it. We can help secure your ministry's future through insurance protection. Request a quote today and let us help you plan, protect, and restore your church.
This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.
The commercial insurance coverages for United Methodist Insurance are sold and serviced directly or indirectly by Sovereign Insurance Agency (CA Lic. No. 0B01380) ("Sovereign") and underwritten by various available insurance markets. Sovereign pays United Methodist Insurance a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.