Why public facilities can be hazardous

Date:Oct 13, 2011

Hard surfaces and an abundance of water make for a tricky combination at the best of times - but especially when they are freely accessible.

For many, publicly available facilities such as showers, change rooms and toilets provide a practical alternative to long travel times to use amenities usually associated with being at home.

But the dangers inherent in these spaces mean that - for both operators and patrons - extra care needs to be exercised.

Many of these installations allow people to use running water for cleaning, which in turn requires the use of non-porous materials such a stainless steel, porcelain and ceramic tiles.

While there is no doubt that these surfaces are easier to clean than alternatives, they all have one main flaw - they present a real slip hazard when covered in water.

Another issue arises from the way that people tend to use the facilities - some members of the public fail to recognise that it is a space to be shared with other individuals and as such should be treated with a level of respect.

Items such as discarded hand-towels and spilled soap can represent a real problem to fellow patrons, with the combination of hard, unforgiving surfaces and slippery materials forming an obvious risk.

One main issue is that the people who make use of these public amenities may not be legally responsible for their upkeep - despite numerous signs asking members of the public to look after the space around them.

For most intents and purposes it is the owners or operators of a facility that are required to keep them in a safe condition for anyone who happens to enter the premises.

According to the laws governing civil liability, the onus is on the entity that holds the title of a piece of property to manage any risks and hazards it may pose.

The measure often used is that if a reasonable person was to look at the conditions present in a venue or residence, what would they think?

Compensation lawyers have successfully made cases where it can be shown that the risks posed by a slippery floor are obvious and easy to fix - requiring little more than a good mopping and some clear signage to warn people of the hazards.

The medical treatments for harm that comes to an individual as a result of negligence in keeping these facilities clean and safe have been known to be expensive.

However, a personal injury lawyer can help victims gain access to payments that can assist in cover these ongoing costs.



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