Entrance Mats and Carpet Runners
You’ve seen them at the entrance to nearly every restaurant, gas station or convenience store in Indianapolis or Indiana – the ubiquitous floor mat or runner.
Ironically, these same mats and runners that are widely used in retail/commercial places in order to help people walk more safely where water or snow/ice may cause a floor to become dangerously slippery, can become the source of the injury itself under certain circumstances – especially for the elderly.
Mats/Carpets Account for Nearly 30% of all Falls
According to one study, annually, an estimated 37,991 adults age 65 years or older were treated in the United States emergency departments from 2001-2008 by medical personnel for slip and falls or trip and falls involving carpets (54.2%) and rugs (45.8%). While most falls (72.8%) occurred at home, nearly 30% of carpet/rugs related falls occurred in the workplace or in public places. Rosen, Tony, J Inj Violence Res. 2013 Jan; 5(1): 61–69.
Women appeared to be more at risk than men (80.2%) of all fall injuries. While the most common location for falls occurred in the home bathroom, a significant number of falls occurred in the spots of “transition” where carpets/rugs/mats met the tiled floors.
While Designed to Prevent Injuries, Mats Can Cause Injuries if Standards Not Followed
The purpose of a mat in a commercial establishment is to remove the liquid substances that people can bring into a store when inclement weather is occurring, e.g., snow, ice, sleet.
The idea is that the mat would “capture” the liquid and thus prevent distribution of it throughout the tiled flooring of the store, thereby protecting other customers from slip and falls who were located within the store.
While mats/runners can be effective in reducing slip and falls when properly used, they can become dangerous items themselves if not handled carefully.
As a Trip Hazard
One way a restaurant or store mat can become a tripping hazard is when the mats “wrinkle” or people kick up portions of the mat when wiping off their feet after entering a store. The uneven level of the wrinkled mat can be a hazardous tripping spot for unsuspecting customers who follow.
Consequently, it is prudent for stores to periodically check all mats near entrances on a timely basis. After all, nearly every person who enters a store or restaurant steps upon a mat.
Additionally, the backing on a mat is also crucial to overall safety. There are “nonslip” resistant mats made for the purpose of reducing wrinkles or kicked-up portions of the mat to prevent these uneven levels from occurring. Stores and restaurants are highly recommended to purchase and implement non-slip resistant mats in their Indiana stores.
Old, misshapen, or improperly placed mats all can present tripping hazards for the unsuspecting pedestrian into an Indiana business, restaurant or convenience store. Older mats can sometimes lose the ability to lay “flat” on the ground, causing a wrinkle that can trip an unsuspecting customer.
Similarly, mats that are too lightweight can easily be torn or lose shape due to excessive usage. The lighter weighted mats can blow away and not protect the entrances where they were originally placed. Mats that are stored by a rolling method can lose shape quickly, too and fail to lay flat against the floor.
Organizations designed to look at safety considerations such as the ASTM (American Society of Testing and Methods) recognized this problem and recommends that all mats be of a heavier-type material to prevent wrinkling and uneven surfaces. They recommend mats and runners be made of materials as coconut fiber or heavy corrugated rubber.
Entrances to stores, restaurants and businesses are called “ingress” and exits are called “egress”. Several nationally-recognized standards (ASTM F1637, ANSI/ASSE 1264.2) control the usage of mats and describe proper methods of using them in commercial settings.
In fact, the best method of using a mat for any store, restaurant or business is to employ a “recessed area” where the mat fits snugly into a lowered portion of the floor – similar to a jigsaw puzzle – to prevent crinkles and movement of the mat after usage.
Safety societies also recommend that mats be color contrasted to the floors they meet to allow discernible adjustments for the human eye to account for its presence.
Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw of Shaw Law Offices has been handling slip and falls and trip and falls over restaurant and store mats and runners for over 30+ years now.
If you have an injury involving a store mat or runner, contact Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw now to receive a free consultation.
Difference between a Mat versus a Runner
A mat is usually carpeted and placed at or near a restaurant or store entrance to soak up moisture and prevents its distribution throughout the facility; a “runner” is a mat that has a different physical dimension. While both are flat and are used as temporary floor coverings, a “runner” is typically a floor mat is several times longer than it is wide.
As a Slip Hazard
Once again, mats or runners can cause as many slip and falls as they prevent if regular and proper maintenance is not employed by the restaurant, store or business.
Mats can quickly become filled and over-saturated with liquid such as ice, snow and sleet during bad weather conditions in Indiana. When this happens, the mat becomes a repository for liquid that can then be distributed throughout the facility causing slip and falls in areas located far from the entrances.
Additionally, floor mats can move far from the entrance or protected area if water or other liquids become trapped below the surface and pedestrians continue to walk upon them. In those circumstances, a mat that has moved protects nothing.
It is also important to place a sufficient amount of mats and runners to catch ice and snow. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommended that a minimum of 12-15 square feet of mat coverage would act to prevent 90% of tracked in materials.
Call Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw for your slip and fall or trip and fall on an Indiana entrance mat or carpet runner.
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