Slips, Trips & Falls on Dance Floors Expert Article

Dance floors, be they permanent feature or installed for temporary use, can be dangerous to participants if not properly installed, maintained, and monitored for safe use. This article examines the premises safety concerns unique to dance floors as opposed to other walkway surfaces, and discusses the recognized standards of care for installing and maintaining both permanent and temporary dance floors.

Slips, Trips & Falls on Dance Floors - Expert Article

The features of a safe dance floor are the same whether the surface is installed as a permanent feature or intended for use as temporary feature for a short duration. A dance floor, by its nature, is different from a pedestrian walkway. While participants may “walk” onto the dance floor surface, there are inherent characteristics that should be considered in maintaining a dance floor surface as “safe for dance use.”

Dancing includes abrupt movements of the body, swirling, twisting, and sliding of the feet with partners dancing together and separately at different speeds. To be safe for participants, the surface needs to accommodate a variety of foot and body motions not generally found in everyday walking. Considerations for a safe dance floor include:

  • Is the surface flat and planar so that people can move in numerous directions at once without being tripped by the surface?
  • Is the surface slippery enough, without being too slippery, to allow foot twisting and sliding during dance movement?
  • Does the floor react to impact in a manner that makes it safe for jumping and sliding?
  • Do participants recognize when they are either “on” or “off” the dance floor?
  • What special precautions should be taken to maintain the dance floor surface safe for participants?

Let’s consider each of these factors individually.

Flat and Planar Dance Floor

A dance floor is classified for recreational use. Because dancing involves abrupt body and foot movements, by everyone from a novice to professional dancers, the floor surface must accommodate all types and ability levels. Like any recreational or performance surface such as basketball or tennis courts, a performance stage, or even an ice rink, the surface should be safe for the intended use. This requires a surface that is without abrupt edges or elevational changes that may cause a user to catch their foot on it.

The foreseeable foot movements during dancing make it likely that any difference in the planarity of the dance floor surface can render it dangerous to a participant. Careful consideration must be given to the installation and ongoing maintenance of a flooring surface intended for dancing to ensure it is maintained as flat and planar.

Dance Floor Slip Characteristics

It is important that the flooring surface provide a stable and predictable response to the participants dance movements. A combination of the slip resistance of a flooring and its impact response are necessary to provide a safe and durable surface.

Typically, a floor intended for dancing will have a lower slip resistance than that of an ordinary pedestrian walkway. This is balanced by the flooring’s impact response. These characteristics can be controlled through the selection of the flooring material, flooring hardness, surface texture, and the subfloor construction condition.

The same considerations that go into an athletic flooring surface need to be considered for dance flooring. Dance flooring is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many flooring materials available and each has different characteristics that can make them suitable or unsuitable for use as a dance floor surface.

Dance Floor Limits

It is important for dance participants to understand where the limits of the flooring surface intended for dance is located. Some venues may choose to use the same flooring surface for the entire room, with only portions of it designated for dancing. Some may install temporary dance floors which must be transitioned to the surrounding walkway surfaces. Some floors may be finished with different products to provide the desirable slip characteristics on the dance floor versus the surrounding area.

Either way, the limits of the area designated for dance should be indicated with signage, transition strips at the floor level, and/or markings warning people of their entrance or exit from the dance floor surface.

Dance Floor Safety Precautions

To be safe, contaminants should be kept off dance floor surfaces. Differences of illumination level, warning signage, and barricades are all meaningful and useful devices that can keep the dance floor safe while being used in a foreseeable manner.

Slip, Trip & Fall Investigations

The Premises Safety experts at Robson Forensic are frequently retained to investigate cases involving slips, trips, and falls as they relate to floors and walkway surfaces, sidewalks, short flight stairs, gratings, wheel stops, and speed bumps, and other architectural features such as athletic or dance flooring surfaces. Our experts are well versed in the standards relevant to pedestrian safety as well as industry standards governing retail, residential, and commercial premises.

For more information, submit an inquiry or call us at 800.813.6736.

Featured Expert

Anthony Fenton, Architecture, Construction & Premises Safety Expert

Anthony Fenton, AIA, RRC, REWC, ASCA-C, CXLT

Architecture, Construction & Premises Safety Expert
Anthony Fenton is an architect with 25 years of diverse professional experience in building design, renovations, and construction administration. His career prior to joining Robson Forensic covered a… read more.

Related Articles

View All Articles

What is a Safe Floor?

By Robson Forensic
Expert Article

This article discusses various aspects of flooring that influence pedestrian safety. What Is a Safe Floor? Of all the surfaces we come in contact with on a daily basis, the walkway surface is the most…

Resort Premises Safety

By Sylvia B. Deye
Expert Article

In this article, architect Sylvia Deye, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP explores the complexities of designing resort environments that are both safe and functional for the wide range of activities that they…

Slip & Trip Hazards Posed by Floor Mats & Runners

By Catherine Peterman
Expert Article

In this article, architect and retail premises safety expert, Catherine Peterman discusses the appropriate use of floor mats and runners. When properly selected and maintained, floor mats can be part…