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Slips, trips and falls represent half of all liability and workers compensation claims for churches. They come from members, guests, employees and volunteers, but most of them are preventable. With regular maintenance and good housekeeping, you can protect people from accidents and injury and prevent the church from experiencing a lawsuit or claim. Below are the main areas of concern for keeping the church safe, inside and out. Follow the link to download a sample Slip and Fall Protocol which includes an incident form.
- Keep the facility clean and free from open hazards. If someone trips over torn carpet, falls because the handrail came loose, or trips over an extension cord, the Church would be responsible, and our own liability policy would have to respond. So, use a checklist for regular maintenance, keep good housekeeping standards and invite your regular employees or members to bring maintenance issues to your attention.
- Entry ways are the most common area for slip and fall accidents. Entry mats help by keeping the area dry but should be watched so they don’t roll up and pose a trip hazard. During hurricane season it’s very important to monitor the water that gets tracked in the entry ways. Have ushers use umbrellas to walk people in and have an area or bags available for guests to use for wet umbrellas.
- Stairs should be well lit, free from obstacles and have sturdy handrails.
- Kitchens often can become wet or greasy. Clean up spills immediately and utilize non-slip mats in front of prep stations and sinks.
- Uneven ground, cracks in sidewalks or parking lots and raised sidewalk seams are the most common causes of outdoor trip and falls. Any change in elevation or surfaces greater than ¼ inch can easily cause someone to trip. Monitor sidewalks for uneven seams or raised areas and have those seams ground down to a variance < ¼ inch. Cracks should be filled, and large holes repaired. Sidewalks should be swept of debris.
- Unmarked obstacles such as curbs, transitions, parking blocks, or tree roots are hazards. These can be address by painting a bright color or preventative maintenance. Tree roots and landscape beds should be well mulched or partitioned to prevent foot traffic.
- Inadequate lighting increases the likelihood of a trip, so maintain well-lit parking lots, sidewalks and stairways. Lighting has the additional benefit of deterring vandals and creating a welcoming atmosphere.
To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.
John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at email@example.com
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