Human, environmental and configuration factors affect how people use built environments.
We diagnose causes of injuries from slips, trips and other kinds of falls and pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
- Most human factors like age, sex, vision and height cannot be controlled, but are statistically predictable.
- Most environmental factors like climate, weather, slope and light cannot be controlled, but are also statistically predictable.
- Most configuration factors like walkways, parking lots, doorways, other passages and stairs and steps can be controlled.
While code knowledge is useful, codes don’t cover every problem. Biomechanics is important, but perception and cognition typically precede movement. The Harvard psychologist, Ellen Langer, refers to “premature cognitive commitments” that are pervasive in work, education and health. In his review of Langer's Mindfulness, the distinguished psychologist Jerome Bruner called mindlessness “a human scourge: everyday functional stupidity.”
It's always something. Space Analytics® has addressed a wide variety of problems:
- blue light
- cart corrals
- door swings
- driver vision
- heat sinks
- hidden holes
- non-traffic injury
- parking lots
- peripheral vision
- potholes and puddles
- shade and shadow
- speed bumps
- steps and stairs
- step into air
- surface deterioration
- treads and risers
- vehicle shape
- view sheds
When configuration is a significant causal factor, then design, construction and management must be examined to determine responsibility and negligence. Key questions are what is intelligible, foreseeable and who could foresee it. We have been involved in a wide range of cases, about 75% for plaintiffs.
- A design problem.
At about 5pm on sunny day in mid-May, a woman and her husband in their 60s walked out of a suburban restaurant heading to their car in the parking lot. She saw a concrete ramp and headed to her car but she fell and suffered foot, leg and ankle injuries. What appeared to be a ramp was actually a run of steps with three-foot wide treads between low risers. For about four months on sunny days of the year, shadows cast by the building caused the treads to look like a continuous, ramp-like surface. And there were no handrails. The design did not address known climatic conditions of the area and failed to specify handrails and provide other useful cues.
- A management problem
A woman driving a Ford 150 in a large strip mall hit and killed a 3 ½ year old boy dashing toward a children’s entertainment venue. Security camera files showed the truck was traveling less than 15 mph. An eight-figure wrongful death suit against the property owner, manager and tenant resulted. We compared the built environment in this mall with other malls the tenant used. Our analysis indicated the venue could be an attractive nuisance and showed the parking lot, among other problems, had not one warning or regulatory sign addressing vehicle movement. The case settled two days before trial. After the settlement, all the warning indicators we said should have been installed were finally installed.
- A construction problem
A police officer was chasing a person in apartment complex parking lot about 11PM and as he reached out to grab him, he tripped, hit his head and suffered a brain injury that prevented him from continuing his job. Asphalt parking lots have to be periodically repaved. This one had been repaved twice but since the drain rims had not been raised to the height of the surrounding asphalt, an almost 3/4 inch ridge in caught the sole of his shoe and tripped him.