Part of the larger legal concept of negligence, Duty of Care refers to the responsibility of each person to anticipate reasonably foreseeable causes of injury and to do everything practicable to remove or minimise risk.
Duty of Care arises whenever one individual or group undertakes an activity which could reasonably harm another. Whether you are a contractor, owner, manager, employer, customer or occupier, if you are involved in an activity whereby it is reasonably foreseeable that someone might suffer some sort of harm or loss because of something you do, you owe them a Duty of Care.
Duty of Care cannot be delegated/passed on to anyone else, and ignorance Duty of Care does not help avoid liability. Recently, there has been a significant increase in standards that apply to design and construction of buildings and other structures, covering such matters as structure, fire resistance, access and egress, services and equipment, and certain aspects of health and amenity. Standards for slip resistance also apply.
Nationally recognised standards for slip resistance are:
- AS/NZS 3661.2: 1994 Slip Resistance of Pedestrian Surfaces
- AS 4586: 2013 Slip Resistance Classification of New Pedestrian Surface Materials
- AS 4663: 2013 Slip Resistance Measurements of Existing Pedestrian Surfaces
Fulfilling Your Duty of Care
Your first step is to assess the risk along with relevant personnel. Building code regulations provide standards that you are obligated to comply with and conditions such as minimum slip resistance, lighting, the slope of the floor and even stairway and handrail dimensions.
Obtain an independent and authoritative assessment. Testing will allow you to determine the likelihood of a slip occurring and the consequence of injury.
If you are unsure about the consequence of the injury, assume the worst: falls from slips and trips constitute a large and costly public health problem in Australia, with estimated health system costs to the public exceeding $4B per year.
Usually, it is more appropriate to reduce the likelihood of a risk than it is to reduce the consequences of the risk. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Regardless of whether your floor’s slip resistance results in a high or low level of risk, an appropriate plan to reduce the risk will always be beneficial.
ANTIslipit can help you assess the risk and recommend the appropriate action(s) to be undertaken, enabling you to fulfil your Duty of Care.