There are more than leaves falling in Indiana for many local business owners and we’d be remiss if we didn’t round out our “fall” blog series sharing some tips for prevention of slip and fall exposures. Not only does sharing slip and ‘fall’ content provide us a witty play on words in the midst of the ‘fall’ season, it is an key time of year to start preparing and planning for winter months and dropping temperatures.
WalkerHughes’ own, Nick Baxter, not only an insurance professional but a local restaurant owner himself, shares how floors can get slick quick and it is important to have the proper preparation and procedures in place to protect not only your guests, but your employees and innocent patrons passing by as well.
It is important to set the tone with the proper procedures in place, so all parties know the protocol should an incident occur. Nick shares with his business clients the importance of making sure you have at least 2 wet floor signs stocked and are prepared in advance with supplies for the winter months, especially in Indiana. Every year when the first snowstorm of the season rolls in, the new channels feature Hoosiers stocking up on shovels and salt, making those items a hot commodity in the face of inclement weather. As a business owner, it is important to have those items not only on hand, but those responsibilities predetermined and delegated with your staff so there is no question as weather approaches who is to take action.
Business owners have a duty to take responsibility to protect their customers from known hazards and inspect their property to find hazards. Nick discussed the importance of business owners getting to know their parking lot; how many spaces it has, if the slope or drain placement causes it to pool water in any areas, how many other businesses could be utilizing your spaces and what their business hours are. A business owner could be negligent for injuries sustained in their parking lot by someone who wasn’t even their customer, it is important to know the hours of the establishments surrounding your parking spaces to create the proper plan for parking lot maintenance. Additionally, pay attention to your sidewalks, downspouts or variations in the concrete could cause water to pool and freeze should temperatures drop. It is important to be aware of these hazards to make sure they are properly cared for in the event of rain, ice or snow.
4 Steps to Reduce Slip and Fall Claims
- Create a program for inspection and clean-up
This must be shared with all employees, but a defined program will help with loss prevention as hazards are discovered and removed immediately. If a slip and fall does occur, an established program place can help demonstrate that the reasonable standard has been met by the business.
- Clean-up supplies, caution cones and wet floor signs on hand
We touched on this earlier, it is not only important to have these items on hand, but also have them accessible and in a location all employees can access. Easy access to this equipment and prompt placement warns customers of the hazard and helps prevent risk.
- Utilize the proper placement of rugs
There are rug programs with well established rug vendors that can partner with your business to ensure the proper type and location of rugs are being used. Rugs at entrances remove outdoor moisture and are especially important in rainy or snowy conditions. Properly weighted rugs are available and reduce “curling” to remove trip hazards. Make sure your rugs are functional for your patrons.
- Should an incident occur, have a standard program for reporting and documenting all incidents
An incident report should contain date and time of the incident along with names and contact information for those involved. Statements taken right after an incident are as close to the truth as you will get. It is important to memorialize the facts after a loss by talking to the injured party as well as any witnesses. If your business has a surveillance system, review that footage to preserve the facts of the accident, and consider taking photographs of the scene.
While not all slip and fall claims are weather related, the weather-related exposures can be reduced if proper procedures are followed.