Preventing Personal Injury Hazards on Your Property

A handy checklist for property owners to reduce personal injury liability risk.

Personal injury liability risks either develop over time or are often latent and unknown. Some risks develop during initial construction, and some develop over time as properties and premises age or undergo updates, renovations, or changes. 

Every state requires property owners to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Knott Lab engineers have completed thousands of property inspections and served as expert witnesses in premises liability cases. We know the sorts of hazards and conditions that arise and may cause or contribute to an injury. While it’s impossible to predict every possible way a person can be injured on your premises, we have compiled this handy checklist to assist in identifying and reducing risks on your property:

Parking Lot

  • Lot lacking potholes
  • Pavement is well maintained, no crack development
  • Parking lines are clearly/visibly marked
  • Accessible ramps are available where needed
    • Ensure these ramps do not include or create tripping hazards
    • Ramps are the proper configuration/type for the site/location
    • Yellow and/or red warning paint is applied where necessary and is easily visible
    • Curb returns only utilized where return abuts a “non-walkable surface”
    • Detectable surfaces utilized where appropriate
  • Pedestrian pathways are clear and free of hazards
  • Pedestrian access routes are clearly marked and free of hazards
  • A snow and ice removal plan is in place
    • SIMA-member contracted company
    • Detailed contract in place with roles, responsibilities, triggers, and timelines clearly specified
    • Understanding of pre and post-weather event monitoring responsibilities
    • Clear delineation and understanding of responsibilities for anti- or de-icing requirements
    • Snow triggers specified
    • Comprehensive plan for removal and storage of snow, with site map in place
    • Fire exit routes understood and identified in snow & ice management map
    • Employees trained on identification of hazards
    • Tools available for employees to address hazards (cones, signs, de-icing agents, etc.)
    • Employees are aware of contact information for snow removal company if needed
  • Adequate exterior lighting provided, where necessary, for designated pedestrian pathways
  • No changes in elevation greater than 0.25″ in pedestrian access routes


  • Downspouts do not discharge onto pedestrian access route, ramp, or reasonably foreseeable pedestrian pathway
  • Drainage is not toward pedestrian access route or reasonably foreseeable pedestrian pathway
  • Walkways free and clear of changes in elevation greater than 0.25″
  • Irrigation/sprinkler system does not discharge onto pedestrian access route or reasonably foreseeable pedestrian pathway
  • Fire escape/exit route free and clear of hazards
  • A snow and ice removal plan is in place for pedestrian pathways including all the same elements listed above for parking lot snow and ice removal planning

Exterior Stairs

  • Risers are between 4″ and 7″
  • Tread depths are at least 11″
  • Treads and risers of uniform size and shape
  • Radius of curvature of leading edge of tread is not greater than 0.5″
  • Beveled nose not greater than 0.5″
  • Risers not sloped greater than 30° 
  • Leading edge of tread does not project more than 1.25” beyond below tread 
  • Treads not sloped more than 2% in any direction
  • Outdoor stairways and outdoor approaches are designed to prevent accumulation of water on walking surfaces 
  • Handrails not less than 34” and not more than 38” as measured above nosing 
  • Handrails with circular cross sections outer diameter between 1.25” and 2” 
  • Non-circular handrails with a perimeter dimension of at least 4” and not greater than 6.25” with maximum cross-section dimension of 2.25

ADA Ramps

  • Ensure all ramps are clear and free of hazards
  • Ramps meet ADA compliance for rise, width, slope, etc. See ADA ramp compliance rules here.
  • Ramp surface is firm, stable, and slip-resistant
  • Landings are designed to prevent accumulation of water, snow or ice
  • Transitions of ramps to street, landings, pathways are flush with no elevation changes
  • Handrails along the ramp are in good condition, are between 34″ and 38″ in height, and have consistent height along the entire run


  • Entry to primary function area accessible. See ADA accessible design guidelines here.
    • Clear width of doorway 32” minimum 
    • Clear height of doorway 80” minimum 
    • Any projections on face of door no lower than 34” above floor or ground 
    • Any projections on face of door do not extend more than 4” from surface of door 
    • Handles pulls, locks and latches easy to grasp with one hand and do not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of wrist to operate (lever-operated, push-type, and u-shaped handles are acceptable)
    • Hardware mounted no more than 48” above finished floor
    • Threshold must not exceed 0.75” in height for exterior sliding doors or 0.5” for other types 
    • If door is equipped with automatic closing device, sweep range of closer adjusted so that from an open position of 70°, door takes at least 3 seconds to move to a point 3” from the latch, measured to the leading edge of the door
  • Entryway change in elevation not greater than 0.25”
  • If changes in elevation are greater than 0.25″ a beveled slope or ramp is required (0.25″ to 0.5″ requires bevel at 2:1 slope, 0.5″ to 3″ requires ramp with 1:8 or steeper slope, 3″ to 6″ requires ramp with 1:10 or steeper slope, 6+” require ramp with 1:12 slope)
  • Thresholds do not exceed 0.75” 


  • Changes in elevation contain appropriate treatment (same as entryway elevation treatment required above)
  • Interior glass windows/doors are safety glass (see CFR requirements here)
  • Means of egress
    • Ceiling height not less than 7’-6”
    • Not interrupted by a building element 
    • No obstructions placed within means of egress
    • Illumination provided by artificial means
    • Illumination provided along path of travel for the exit discharge from each exit to the public way
    • All accessible spaces must have at least one accessible means of egress
  • Exits and exit access doors marked by an exit sign readily visible from any direction of travel
  • Exit signs internally or externally illuminated 
  • Windows have window opening control devices (WOCDs) complying with ASTM F2090 when the following applies: 
    • In dwelling units
    • In multi-family dwellings, the top of the sill of the window opening is at a height less than 36” above the finished floor; or in one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes the top of the window opening is at a height less than 24” above the finished floor
    • The window will permit openings that will allow passage of a 4” diameter sphere when the window is in its largest opened position 
    • The vertical distance from the top of the sill of the window opening to the finished grade or other surface below, on the exterior of the building, is greater than 72” 

Interior Stairs

  • All steps on a flight of stairs shall be uniform
  • Open risers are not permitted
  • Handrails shall be provided both sides of the stairs and continue entire length of flight of stairs
  • Handrails are between 34″ and 38″ above the walking surface
  • Handrails must be a min 1.5” from wall and extend past the end of the stairs


Fire Detection & Suppression

Fire requirements are vast and vary based on the size, type, and use of the facility. We recommend your property be fully inspected by an authorized company or service provider specializing in fire protection systems and requirements.


We understand that this process can feel overwhelming. Knott Laboratory can assist you in evaluating your premises to aid in the identification and elimination of these hazards.  While it is impossible to identify and eliminate all risk, our engineers will utilize their unique experience, knowledge, and skills to assist you in reducing your risk. Contact us to schedule an inspection.

Not all items in this checklist may be applicable or necessary. Each case is unique. Please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding applicability.