Slips Trips and Falls
Engineers are often called upon to analyze situations in which a person fell on a walkway surface, a stairway or a ramp. In a slip
and fall accident, the underlying question in almost all cases is whether a person fell due to their own accord or negligence, or
whether the fall was due to an improperly designed or maintained walkway surface, stairway, or ramp. Consequently, there is a need
for engineering expertise to evaluate codes and standards to determine whether at the location of the fall, the walkway, stairway
or whatever, was designed according to codes promulgated by building officials, and local or national governmental agencies.
Govatos has been retained to examine code applicability and numerous fall accidents. Two examples are provided below.
All building codes require strict dimensional consistency of treads and risers. The photo above shows a stairway where numerous falls
have occurred. The top riser is constructed of concrete while the lower risers are made of brick. The section view above shows
that the top concrete riser was approximately 2 inches shorter than the lower risers which is in flagrant contradiction to building
codes. In this case, Dr. Govatos concluded that the code violation contributed to the falls.
Likewise, all building codes require that all stairways have continuous handrails. As the above photo shows, this stairway is clearly
noncompliant. When persons fall on stairways without handrails, they frequently state that they went to "grasp for something" but
there was nothing there. In this case, Dr. Govatos concluded that the absence of handrails violated building code requirements and
contributed to a fall which occurred on the stairs