Slip and Fall In School Cafeteria Results In Injury

Michael Morgenstern

Written by
— Updated on May 12, 2016

wet floorThis case takes place in North Dakota and involves a slip and fall on a wet school cafeteria floor. The school cafeteria was rented out to the YMCA to run an after school program. The building maintenance staff cleans/mops the floor every day at 2:00 PM and the after school program starts promptly at 2:30 PM. On this occasion, an after school counselor slipped on the wet floor and suffered two broken wrists that required surgery.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. How much time should be given for proper cleaning / drying of floors when scheduling back to back activities?
  • 2. How do you determine when activities can resume after a floor has been wet mopped?

Expert Witness Response E-009388

I have been an educator for 25 years, 13 of them as a school administrator and I am able to address this issue from a facilities standpoint. I am also a certified School Safety Specialist, which enables me to conduct school safety audits and assessments that would help prevent such occurrences. Whether a facility should conduct an activity so soon after mopping would depend on several circumstances. Was appropriate signage placed at the scene? What chemicals, if any, were used, as this could affect drying time and the presence of any residue? What is the standard practice in the facility? Prior to the incident, was there a change in standard procedures that set up a belief that it was safe to begin when it actually wasn’t? Did the group conducting the activity perform an assessment of the facility prior to the start of the activity? Such an assessment may have seen the wet floor, and would have alerted them to the possible danger. As a school administrator, I am very familiar with such situations. While serving as an athletic director, I would clean floors prior to the start of volleyball and basketball games and developed procedures to keep people off the floor until it the conditions were safe and adequate for us. As a school safety specialist, I help school principals develop procedures for activities in cafeterias and gymnasiums that include safety checks and reporting procedures.

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