Retail Insurance Alert: The Significance of Slips and Falls

Published on Tue, 07/16/2013 - 16:38

As a business owner, you know how crucial it is to provide a safe work environment for your employees. Likewise, it’s also imperative to provide a safe environment for customers. Retail locations, restaurants, hotels, wineries and fitness centers seem to be prime locations for slip and fall injuries, and slips and falls are more serious than you might expect. In fact, slips and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents and cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths; second only to motor vehicle accidents as a cause of fatalities, according to

There are countless hazards that can lead to slips and falls, including:

• Liquid on the floor from dropped ice, spills or mop buckets
• Spilled merchandise such as bulk food or candy
• Empty boxes left on the sales floor
• Low visibility displays or extension cords
• Wrinkled rugs or flipped up rug corners
• Wet sidewalks from sprinklers or wet weather conditions

If one of your customers suffers a slip and fall injury in your place of business, you are almost guaranteed a liability claim. In addition to the legitimate slip and fall claims, there are many which are not legit. In fact, according to the National Floor Safety Institute, 3 percent of slip and fall claims are fraudulent.

The costs involved with liability claims add up fast and may include:

• Payment of claimant’s medical bills, lost time from work and any resulting disability
• Legal expenses
• Potentially higher insurance premiums
• Lost production time by management while dealing with the accident
• Bad publicity

Protect your retail operation by providing reasonable care.

Businesses are expected to take reasonable care to keep patrons safe. That means it’s your responsibility to keep floors, entrances and exits, restrooms, and parking lots hazard-free. If you can prove that your team proactively takes reasonable care to maintain a safe environment, you have a much better chance of defending your business and controlling damages in the event of a lawsuit.

Six proactive ways to protect your customers and your business:

1. Establish a written policy for how your operation provides reasonable care.
2. Routinely train and monitor employees to ensure consistent reasonable care procedures.
3. Conduct regular and thorough floor, sidewalk and parking lot inspections.
4. Give special focus to high traffic locations with increased risk of exposure such as the store entrance or the drink fountain area.
5. Train employees to stand by any spills until they can be cleaned up.
6. Always use proper signage and/or cones to identify wet floors or hazards.

By protecting your customers from slip and fall hazards, you demonstrate reasonable care while also running a clean and inviting business. These steps can reduce retail and hospitality insurance claims and heighten customer satisfaction, which should help bolster the bottom line.

As always, a Heffernan representative will be happy to help with proactive retail insurance and hospitality insurance solutions.