Transition areas are places where walking surfaces change. Slips and falls often happen in transition areas because the change between the two surfaces is sometimes drastic or unexpected. The greater the difference is between the two surfaces, the more likely it is for a slip and fall incident to occur.
Some common examples of transition areas include:
- Building entrances, particularly when moving from concrete to smooth linoleum or tile
- Carpeted offices to non-carpeted hallways
- Sealed or epoxy-coated concrete to untreated surfaces
- Grass-covered areas to sidewalks
Add rain, snow, sawdust, metal shavings or other contaminants in these areas and the slip and fall hazards increase exponentially.
Identifying transition areas is the first step in minimizing potential incidents. Find a drawing or blueprint of your facility and circle or highlight every doorway and entrance. Don’t forget loading dock doors and service entrances.
Next, grab a pencil and prepare to take notes. Take a walk around your facility and look at each of the areas that you circled or highlighted. Jot down the composition of the walking surfaces on both sides of the doorway. While you are in each transition area, note the amount of lighting and any mats, runners or other items that may be present. If for any reason there are other areas where walking surfaces change, note them on the drawing as well. For example, if there is a carpeted office area that has a tiled coffee island in the middle of it, that would also be a transition area.
For each area, consider how much of a contrast there is – if any – between the two walking surfaces. Walking from a dry, linoleum-tiled hallway onto a sealed concrete production room floor may not be a big transition. Walking off of an entrance mat onto polished marble in a foyer could be a drastic change – especially in bad weather.
Where transition areas vary greatly, consider ways to make them safer. Some common low-cost ways to do this are:
- Using floor mats and runners (make sure they don’t wrinkle and are in good condition)
- Improving lighting in the area
- Posting signs as a reminder
- Applying sealants or coatings designed to increase the floor’s coefficient of friction
- Keeping paper towels, mops or absorbent mats handy if drips or spills are common
Identifying transition areas and improving safety in each of them is a great first step toward minimizing slip and fall injuries in your facility. Next week, we’ll look at the role footwear plays in slip and fall prevention.
You tell us: How have you made your transition areas slip-free? Let us know in the comments section below!
Adrian Jonessays:04/04/2019 at 8:04 pm
It’s great you mentioned how important it is for people to make sure that whatever surface they’re walking on is a transition area–meaning these are places that people have a tendency to have accidents and where people might lose their footing. It’s important to identify where these areas are because they’re accident-prone areas, and nobody would want to get involved in an accident of any kind. If I had known that there were some places in the house that I was going to buy that were safety hazards I would’ve thought twice before actually buying them.
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