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Access ramp with snow and ice (C) Daniel Friedman 2013 Building Access Ramps Accidents: Access ramp slips, trips, falls

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Building access ramp slip and fall hazards, general safety and proper construction: this article describes the common causes of access ramp accidents: slips, trips, and falls. Slippery walking surfaces combine with inadequate handrails or guardrails to cause falling accidents along ramps and similar elevated walkways.



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Common Causes of Building Access Ramp Slip Trip & Fall Hazards

Ramp & ramp guardrails (C) Daniel Friedman 2013

Our ramp and guardrail photo (left, Poughkeepsie, NY) illustrates that ramps are used as crossways or footbridges as well as direct building access ramps. This ramp is placed level and crosses a small creek on a college campus.

The guidelines for guardrailings and slip protection apply to these structures as well.

[Click to enlarge any image]

With its open steel grid walkway this ramp is quite slip resistant under most weather conditions. Notice that the guardrailings include the required extensions at the entry to the ramp.

Slips, Trips, Missteps and Their Consequences, by Bakken et als. and found in our references at the end of this article provides clear and well-thought out explanations of how and why people slip and fall on stairs, walks, and ramps.

Section 20.2 in Bakken et als. discusses ramp design specs and falls on ramps. The following quotes are excerpted & adapted from that text:

Principal Causes of Ramp Falls:

snow covered access ramp (C) DanieL Friedman

Most ramp falls are related to the ramp being too steep or slippery. Such conditions are often exacerbated when the ramp is wet or accumulated debris is present. -- op cit p. 199:

People sometimes tend to move faster when walking downward on ramps due to the increased forward momentum created by the slope.

Our photo (left) shows a snow and ice-covered access ramp at the entry to a private home.

Ramps should have even greater slip-resistant surfaces than level walking surfaces, such as sidewalks, which are typically in the range of 0.65 SCOF.

While a pedestrian can more easily judge her or his slower and more deliberate speed on a staircase, it is sometimes more difficult to realize that one is increasing speed when descending an unfamiliar ramp, hence a propensity to forward-moving falls while descending ramps. -- op cit.

Static Coefficient of Friction - How Slippery is the Slope of Your Ramp?

In the cited text and other engineering references, SCOF is the static coefficient of friction. Page 23 in the above text gives the SCOF requirements for slopes of various inclines.

A 1 in 12 slope, which is an 8.3 percent slope (the recommended pitch by most sources) is bracketed by SCOFs for two slopes: a 0.93 SCOF for a 9.3 percent slope, and SCOF of 0.625 for a 6.25 percent slope.

Watch out: the slipperiness of a ramp varies enormously depending on what is on its surface, including algae, sand, dust, dirt, water, snow, ice, and even some add-on walking surfaces and paints. At SLIPPERY STAIRS, WALKS we discuss the SCOF for wet algae-covered surfaces.

Visual Clues Affect the Chances of Falling on a Ramp

Access ramp walking assistance (C) DanieL Friedman

A pedestrian's perception of the walking surface is critical in the causality of slip incidents.

If a person perceives a "reasonably safe" walking surface, one which provides a reasonable level of slip resistance, he or she will adjust her gait accordingly on the basis of this contemporaneous tactile and/or visual input.

If a person's perception is not augmented by other internal or external warning stimuli, and if the person encounters a portion of the walking surface at heel strike that provides a SCOF below the traction demand, a slip will most probably occur.-- op cit.

In other words, using an improper and ineffective "anti slip" coating (such as ordinary paint) might actually increase the risk of falling not only for being a potentially surprise slip surface itself, but also because the presence of such a coating provides a visual clue that would be expected to lead a pedestrian to think that the surface had *extra* slip resistance when in fact it does not.

Be certain that any anti-slip paints or add-on non-slip tread materials used on a ramp are intended for that use.

The text also includes material on ramp railings (that can be a visual clue about ramp height, slope, and dangers), and on other ramp markings as they also affect ramp safety.


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Continue reading at RAMP SLIP TRIP FALL REDUCTION or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see SLIPPERY STAIRS, WALKS where we discuss Algae, Ice, Fungus, Wet Surfaces & Other Stair Slip, Trip & Fall Hazards

Suggested citation for this web page

RAMP SLIP TRIP FALL HAZARDS at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to STAIRS RAILINGS LANDINGS RAMPS

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