Slip and Fall Accidents Are No Laughing Matter
Updated: May 1
The causes of slip and fall accidents are varied, ranging from wet or greasy floors, clutter and debris, to uneven surfaces, improper cleaning, lack of hazard identification and, in a small number of cases, fraud. And yet, slips and falls are the most preventable accidents to occur in the workplace…
“All it takes is some common sense to avoid situations that could lead to a customer or employee injury – and result in a drain of your resources and damage to your company’s reputation,” says Nationwide agent John Ferullo of the Ferullo Insurance Agencies in West Chester, Pa. “Prevention, training and thorough documentation of floor safety measures are vital to reducing a company’s exposure to potential claims and litigation.”
The bottom line for businesses The financial impact of a slip and fall accident can range from minor inconvenience to massive liability, depending on the circumstances. The National Floor Safety Institute estimates that the average cost of a slip and fall workers compensation claim is $4,000, and the average liability award for injury to a customer or other third party runs from $60,000 to $100,000 per claim.
Employers also suffer a loss of productivity when employees are injured and off the clock. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries resulting from floors, walkways and ground surfaces were responsible for 18% of all days away from work.
Smart business owners should make sure they have adequate business liability insurance coverage for slip and fall accidents to cover customer and non-employee claims, and workers compensation coverage to protect employees. In addition, a business umbrella policy adds an extra measure of protection if the liability exposure exceeds the limits of the base policy.
Slips and falls: Accident prevention is the prescription Effective slip and fall accident prevention methods go beyond just clearing away clutter or placing a “Wet Floor” sign at a slippery entrance. Cautious business owners establish a program that addresses prevention as well as employee response if someone does get injured.
“My agency has a habit of always taking photos of sidewalks. If the client’s walkways have problems we know before the policy is written, and will have the client remedy the concern,” says Ferullo. “It’s also a good reference when a claim is reported.”
Such photos have come in handy for Ferullo’s clients. “We had a loss reported that stated the sidewalk at his business had a large metal decorative cover on the walkway that the claimant tripped over,” he says. “I checked my photos and realized this was on the adjacent property, not his.” By having the photo for reference, Nationwide was able respond to the claim faster.
Here are some ways to reduce the incidence of slip and fall accidents at your business as well as protect yourself in the event of a claim.
Conduct a safety survey daily to look for common culprits such as wet or greasy floors, loose mats, torn carpeting, bad lighting, clutter, cables or wires, and uneven floors.
Attend to any problems immediately by putting up warning signs and taking steps to quickly eliminate the hazard to help avoid slip and fall accidents.
Maintain all floors and walkways on a consistent basis using the recommended cleaning products and methods. Fix all uneven surfaces if possible by recoating or leveling the floor, or illuminate (or otherwise identify) areas that can’t easily be leveled.
Train your employees in slip and fall safety, and establish guidelines on how employees should report problems and respond to customer injuries or hazardous situations.
Document all of your efforts by keeping records of your daily safety inspections, maintenance work and how you dealt with any slip and fall accidents.
Install secure handrails near all stairs and balconies.
Take care of your outdoor areas. Many slips and falls occur outdoors, on sidewalks and in parking lots. Potholes, snow, and ice all create potential problems. Make sure snow and ice are removed, and that surfaces are free of tripping hazards. If necessary, subcontract snow and ice removal to make sure it’s handled promptly.
Don’t create slip and fall hazards on client sites. For businesses that work off premises, make sure cords and cables are secure, holes are filled or protected, and the worksite is safe at all times – whether you’re there or not.
Contact us at 503.653.1212 to learn more about how to protect yourself and your business from the liability of slip and fall accidents. Or, if one of your employees has been the victim of an accident, find out how you can protect yourself and your assets with worker’s compensation insurance.