Slip-fall litigation is on the rise across the nation. The statistics may surprise you. According to the National Safety Council, slip-falls rank second only to motor vehicle accidents for workers' compensation claims.

In fact, slip-falls account for 20 percent of time lost due to non-occupational injuries. Even more surprising, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that more than 1 million people fall victim to this type of accident each year. Sadly, 11,000 of them result in fatality. Slip-falls are not to be taken lightly.

Slip-falls are often a result of an inadequate flooring choice. However, they also can occur due to wet or dirty floors. Grease and dirt buildup, as well as a damp or wet surface, significantly contributes to the slickness of a floor. Such conditions are common, unavoidable elements of our everyday lives -- especially when we come in from outdoors.

And it's a fact that certain flooring types are slipperier than others. For example, ceramic and porcelain tiles, as well as concrete floors, tend to be inherently slippery because they absorb grease and dirt into their surfaces. Even with routine maintenance, it may prove challenging to preserve a clean and safe floor.

A facility manager may want to consider different flooring options that are both aesthetic and safe, especially now that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires every business that has employees to meet its safety guidelines or face penalties of as much as $100,000. In fact, market research has shown that the commercial end user's top consideration when choosing a floor covering is the avoidance of slip-fall litigation.

At this point, there is not a wide variety of safety flooring available. However, certain manufacturers have come to recognize the growing need for safety flooring in the commercial marketplace. Some have begun to address this demand by developing state-of-the-art floor coverings that contain grit surfaces or, better yet, flooring with grit particles throughout the thickness of the tile.

Surface embossing -- where the surface of the tile is embossed to create valleys that allow moisture to drain off it -- has also proven to be a very successful technique for providing enhanced surface friction. This increased friction greatly reduces the potential for slip-fall incidents.

If you are a retailer or business owner, providing safe floors not only proves to customers that you've gone the extra mile to help ensure their safety, it ultimately affects your bottom line as well. By choosing and installing safety flooring, the facility manager will greatly minimize potential litigation expenses, help reduce workers' comp claims and greatly reduce business insurance costs.

Some investments are worth it. Don't you think safety is one of them?