Man Suffers Permanent Injuries From Dangerous Staircase


Residential Safety Expert WitnessThis case involves a man who was seriously injured after falling down a flight of stairs that had fresh coatings of clear lacquer. At the time of the accident, the stairway was not roped off, nor were any signs posted warning of the danger of the wet lacquer. As a result of the fall, the man suffered a number of broken bones as well as a traumatic brain injury, and will be unable to work or care for himself. It was alleged that the property owner was negligent in allowing the stairway to remain open while wet.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What is the proper way of repainting a surface particularly paint to surface in high pedestrian traffic areas?
  • 2. What safety measures should be taken to prevent anyone from being injured?

Expert Witness Response E-009529

As Vice President of Painting for my firm, I have vast experience on the proper techniques for repainting wooden surfaces in high traffic areas. The surface needs to be properly prepared. This is the most important step when painting or lacquering high traffic areas. If the existing coating is adhering properly and is in good shape, a hand sanding would be enough to properly prepare the surface for new paint. If the existing coating is failing (peeling, chipping, cracking), then it should be removed, either by chemically removing it, water blasting it and hand tooling it off. The substrate should then be primed and painted with paint that is recommended for those types of surfaces (i.e. floor and deck enamel). Signage is always a good way of warning people of slippery surfaces. Also, by putting an aggregate in the paint or primer, you would greatly eliminate the possibility of someone slipping. Pre-painting, always cone off the area of work and have visible signs. Post-painting, signage such as “Slippery when wet” is a necessary safety measure.

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