Foot Wedged in Toe Space

EV was standing at the checkout counter of Gerry's Automotive Supplies. She leaned over the counter to write a check for the item she was purchasing. Her husband was near the door, and was motioning for her to hurry. It was getting dark and he needed to get back to his truck, which had stalled. When the transaction was completed, the clerk placed the item in a bag and handed it to EV. She turned to her right, took one step, and fell onto the floor. EV looked back and saw that the laminate on the side of the counter near the toe space was cracked and loose.

HF Issue: Did the toe space provide adequate foot clearance? If not, could Gerry's Automotive have identified that there was a problem with the dimensions of the toe space and have taken reasonable precautions to prevent such an accident.

HF Investigation: Information collected included, but was not limited to: EV's height and weight; the dimensions of the shoes that she was wearing at the time of the accident; the dimensions of the toe space; and photographs of wear patterns on the floor and on the side of the counter.

HF Analysis: EV's left shoe was scanned and incorporated into a computer graphic that showed the clearances between and the shoe and the toe space.

Engineering anthropometry methods were used to determine minimum toe space dimensions that would provide adequate clearances for 99 percent of the population.

The computed dimensions were then compared to the toe space dimensions specified in various authoritative sources. A 3D computer model of EV and the counter was developed to illustrate the likely sequence of events resulting in her fall.

This case went to trial. The attorney had a model of the toe space constructed out of Plexiglas in order to demonstrate how EV's foot likely became momentarily wedged in the space.

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