As a retail operation open to the general public you have an obligation to provide a safe experience for those who patronize your business. Providing a welcoming and safe environment for your customers allows them to shop with ease and increases their chances of shopping with you again. Yet, despite our best efforts to prevent accidents on our premises, accidents do happen. The most common type of accidents to occur in the retail setting are Slips, Trips and Falls. Major causes for these accidents are identified as:
- Lack of slip resistance on walking surfaces
- Poor walking surface conditions
- Poor visibility
- Lack of, or poor condition of handrails and guardrails
Slip, trip and fall injuries often result in broken bones. Broken bones typically result in considerable medical bills and time off of work for the injured… expenses your affiliate may be held liable for. By addressing these major areas of concern you will greatly increase the safety of shoppers in your ReStore.
Here are areas to inspect on your property and tips on how to maintain them:
Aisles – Aisles must be property maintained and free of clutter and overstocking. Merchandise sticking out into an aisle is a major trip hazard not only for shoppers, but for your employees and volunteers. Be sure displays are kept tidy.
Concrete floors – Concrete floors pose a major slipping hazard because of how slippery they become when wet. Painted floors are equally as slippery. Humid climates are prone to condensation accumulating on the floor. Floors should be kept dry as best as possible and permanent caution signs should be posted in areas where the floor may be wet (warehouse or loading dock, for example). Painted floors should be coated with a slip-resistant material for better traction.
Spills – Spills should be cleaned up in a very timely manner, and caution signs placed in the vicinity while a spill is being cleaned. Store mops and warning signs near your entrances and anywhere liquids are displayed. Entrances and exits are especially vulnerable to slip accidents.
Floor coverings –Rugs, carpets and mats should lie flat on the floor so that they don’t bunch. Lighting – Is the store well-lit? Can shoppers see where they’re walking and see merchandise on the shelves? Install over head lighting where needed.
Cords – Are power cords running across the floors? This presents a major tripping hazard. If you need to supply power to appliances through the store, run the power cords through the ceiling and drop them down to where the power is needed. Never run extension cords underneath a mat or rug.
Uneven floors and steps – There are many reasons for uneven floors: over time floors inside older buildings may become uneven, or floors leading to an addition may not be level with the original structure. There may be areas of your store necessary to step up to access other rooms. If your store has uneven flooring, be sure to mark it clearly for all to see. Paint steps with a bright colored paint or use reflective tape. And use handrails where necessary.
Sidewalks and parking lots – What is the condition of your sidewalks and parking surfaces? Cracked pavement, uneven sidewalks, loose gravel and wet exterior surfaces are all slipping and tripping hazards. Keeping these areas in top condition greatly reduces risk of customer injury.
Handrails – Handrails are crucial where there are steps, both inside and outside your building. Handrails should be sturdy and secure and checked often, as they can easily become loose the more they are used.
Winter weather – Extra precaution needs to be taken during winter weather conditions. Snow, sleet, ice and rain can create significant slip and fall hazards. Snow and Ice removal should be addressed aggressively by management or outside contractors, and entrances should be treated with salt. The days following a storm are critical as melting and refreezing can prolong the hazard. Keep mops handy at entrances to mop up melted ice and wetness brought in by customers.
Each of these elements should be examined by your ReStore management team with areas of concern addressed, whether it is simply cleaning and reorganizing, installing additional lighting or even making some more serious repairs such as a new front sidewalk. The cost of creating a safe environment for your customers is well worth the expense. The cost of a claim (or two or three) can easily outweigh the cost of creating and maintaining a safe place for your customers to do business.
To learn more about risks associated with your operations and ways to mitigate those risks, visit the Loss Control and ReStore pages on our website at www.hfhaffiliateinsurance.com (password is Lockton).