The Importance of Removing Trip Hazards in Everyday Life

Trip hazard warning

Traffic accidents are believed to be the primary type of accident that lead to the majority of injuries and even death. However, trips and falls also make up a large percentage of accidents that cause severe injury to people.

Factually, approximately 10,000 people are classified as having died from an unintentional death, where death caused by falls is the most common.

Trips, falls and slips mostly occur on sidewalks, roads and pavements which have not been maintained properly and are in bad shape. The infrastructure deteriorates because of the vast number of pedestrians that use it daily, lack of proper maintenance by authorities and water seepage.

Millions of people move around using sidewalks, and if they are inadequately maintained, their condition worsens over time leading to trip hazards and serious injuries.

Trip Hazards

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A trip, in literal terms, is when someone is suddenly confronted by an unforeseen obstacle or blockage in their path while on foot, which causes them to lose their balance and fall. In other words, trip hazards include all the dangers that can cause someone to trip while moving.

Most of these hazards are found on sidewalks, parking lots, floors, pedestrian bridges, and driveways. Exposure on sidewalks and roads are the biggest threat to a person’s wellbeing.

If we dive into the more technical definition of a trip hazard, then it’s purely an uneven surface. When one concrete block is lower or higher then the others, it creates a bumpy surface which is bound to trip up people.

How to Remove Them?

With around 14% of all accidental deaths being the result of tripping and falling, it's impossible to ensure that every sidewalk, road and ramp remains in a suitable and harmless condition at all times.

Here are a few ways of eliminating trip hazards as soon as they arise:

1. Slabjacking

Slabjacking attempts to lift a sunken concrete slab by pumping a grout through the concrete, effectively pushing it up from below. The process is also commonly referred to as "mudjacking" and "pressure grouting" as well.

Slabjacking contractors typically use an expanding polyurethane foam, providing a multitude of benefits when compared to traditional slabjacking materials. The slabjacking process generally starts with drilling small diameter access holes in the concrete, strategically located to maximize lift. These holes are generally 3/8" or 5/8" diameter for urethane slabjacking and can be over 2" in diameter for traditional mudjacking applications.

Initial material injections will fill any underslab void space. Once the void space is filled, subsequent injections will start lifting the concrete within minutes. After the slabs are lifted, the access holes are patched and the work is complete. Slabjacking technology has several limitations. Most importantly, poor quality concrete may crack and/or deteriorate when being lifted. This is especially true for slabs that are less than 4" in thickness. Cracks can also develop in the concrete during the lifting process. Slabs built over filled-in land and/or poor subsoils can also be susceptible to further settlement.

2. Saw Cutting

This trip hazard removing method utilizes an asphalt or concrete cutting blade that helps to cut through the concrete or asphalt horizontally. This creates a flush cut parallel to the surface to remove the hazard. The process has been designed specifically for eliminating these exposures, and is also cost effective. The fast fix might face limitations in terms of the angle and thickness of the concrete and can leave behind a thinner surface than before.

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3. Grinding

The process uses a grinder or scarifier to repair unbalanced sidewalks. The grinder crushes away the concrete to bring the two unsteady blocks into an even plane. The repaired surface is well-textured and slip resistant. The scarifier is able to repair trip hazards measuring from 1/4" up to 1", thus it is also ADA compliant.

The process eradicates trip hazards quite effectively on top of being light on the pockets. Another advantage of grinding is that it can be easily used to repair home driveways by simply buying or renting a grinder. However, since the process basically leaves behind a scar of the surface, it might alter the overall appearance and also it doesn’t fix any problems underneath the surface.

4. Ramping

Commonly known as patching, it’s a helpful process that repairs sidewalks quickly and at lower costs. The process uses a self-mixing asphalt or concrete substance to raise a simple ramp that produces a slope. This slope is created between the two ill-fitted sidewalk slabs in order to level the surface.

Apart from the above solutions there are other simpler housekeeping techniques that can be used to prevent people from harming themselves because of unlevel concrete pavements.

These include:

  • • Properly maintaining sidewalks, and placing warning signs for any obstructions.
  • • Prevent heavy equipment or loads from going on the pavements that have higher pedestrian traffic.
  • • Quickly remove all debris and garbage from the paths.
  • • Ensure that there are no water puddles on the sidewalks, and that the surface remains dry.

Why Is this Important?

Although many may feel that trip hazards aren’t a big deal; therefore, let potential hazards go without repair, it's vital to fix these hazards as soon as possible. ADA recommends that all pedestrian paths must be maintained on a priority basis to ensure protection of those with disabilities.

Obstacles on sidewalks outside of homes need to be eliminated by the homeowners to ensure the safety of those passing by. In the event that someone hurts themselves by falling over a trip hazard on the sidewalk, the owner of a property may face a lawsuit.

Dealing with these litigations can prove to be much costlier and time consuming than fixing the problem. It's not only important to eliminate dangers but it is also the duty of every citizen to keep their surroundings safe for others.

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