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It’s a busy day in your shop – customers are shopping, your team is hard at work, and you’re there making sure everything is running smoothly. Until it doesn’t. One of your customers takes a serious fall. As you call emergency services to ensure she gets the medical attention she needs, you also worry about being sued.

The Consequences of a Slip and Fall in Your Store

A slip and fall accident can lead to some really severe injuries These can include back problems, broken bones, and even life-altering head trauma.

While falls can affect anyone regardless of age, for older adults, the prognosis can be especially serious. According to the Center for Disease Control, falls are the number one cause of injuries and death from injury for older adults. In 2014, falls experienced by older American adults led to  7 million injuries and $31 billion in annual Medicare costs.

After a slip and fall, the injured person may have the right to sue – sometimes for millions of dollars. A man in Phenix City, Alabama, was sued and settled for $7.5 million after he fell in a Walmart store. reports that his foot unfortunately got stuck in a pallet while he was reaching for a watermelon, ultimately causing him to fall and break his hip. In 2012, AJC reports that a 49-year-old man fell in a Kroger grocery store and was awarded $2.3 million as a result. 

Slip & Fall Prevention Best Practices

Accidents are bound to happen at some point. But retailers should take every precaution possible to limit their liability. It’s important to establish that your business has taken reasonable care to prevent an accident from happening. Here is a list of best practices to reduce the chances of a slip or fall occurring in your store and to reduce your liability if an accident does occur.

  • Always keep all walkways clear of obstructions. Remove pallets, boxes, and any other items that could cause someone to trip.
  • Always avoid having cords or other tripping hazards exposed in walking areas. If the presence of a cord is absolutely necessary, be sure the cord is fully covered with some sort of fastening or caution tape.
  • When a crack in the floor appears, have it repaired as quickly as possible. Also keep an eye out for torn carpet or other damage to flooring that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Closely monitor your store lighting. People need to be able to see where they are stepping for full stability.
  • Make sure your store associates are aware of these hazards and the liability they pose as well. The more of your team members know about it, the more eyes you have on the issue. 
  • Address spills immediately. Do not leave these unattended to for extended periods of time. A wet floor is a slippery floor.
  • Make sure to use caution signs to warn customers of wet floors when cleaning.
  • Pay attention to outdoor areas as well. Provide good lighting and repair or report damage, such as cracked pavement or broken parking stops. Don’t forget about the outdoor areas of your store! Good lighting is important here as well. In the winter months, make sure you’re properly maintaining the safety of outdoor sidewalks and pavement with salt and snow removal services.

As a retailer it is important to take necessary precautions in order ensure your customers are safe shopping in your store. In the end this will keep the customers happy and will keep your life uncomplicated. If you are not sure if you have sufficiently safe guarded your retail environment, reach out to Snow and Ice Expert, Jeremy Swenson today.

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