Slips and trips are amongst the most common liability claims to be brought against shop owners in the UK every year. It only takes a split second to take a tumble, and while in many cases no harm will be done, a fall can just as easily result in a nasty injury. Sprains, pulled or torn muscles and broken bones can have serious consequences for the victim, and equally serious consequences for your business.
As a business owner, you have a duty of care to your staff, your customers and anyone else on your premises, so it is vital to keep them safe and secure. Over the past 20 years, The Retail Mutual have dealt with hundreds of public and employers’ liability claims resulting from falls on their Members’ retail premises. While some were the result of sheer bad luck, others could have been prevented, so we have put together some handy hints to help prevent slips and trips in your store.
How to avoid slips and trips in your store
- Identify the slip and trip risks
Risks are everywhere and some are easier to spot than others. As a business owner it is your job to spot as many potential risks as possible and find solutions to help minimise the chance of an accident.
- Check the floors for hazards
If you want to identify potential slips and trips, start by inspecting your floors. Check for broken, uneven or worn areas and make a note of anything you spot which could pose a threat. Consider the possibilities of spillages too, as liquids are a frequent cause of slips, be they grease, oil, detergent or straightforward water.
Keep your eyes peeled for these potential slip and trip hazards:
- Over-polished floors which could cause someone to slide
- Worn or frayed carpets
- Uneven flooring
- Different types of flooring adjacent to each other
- Flooring that is in poor condition
- Chipped or cracked floor tiles
- Obstacles such as discarded packaging from stocking shelves
- Trailing wires or other hazards
- Wet floors or areas where water or other liquids could spill or pool
- Don’t block stairs, walkways, aisles and corridors
Whilst it may seem obvious not to leave things lying around for people to trip over, it happens more often than you might think. If an employee is busy going about their work or a customer is wandering along browsing your shelves, it’s easy for them not to see an obstacle in their way while their focus is elsewhere. Make sure you check stairs, aisles, walkways, corridors and doorways regularly for trip hazards. Check steps and stairs and ensure they are not wobbly or loose and are clearly indicated, and ensure all furniture and fittings are secure and well-anchored without sharp or jagged edges. Items such as stock, trolleys and cleaning equipment such as brooms, mops and buckets should be kept to the side and stored away properly when not in use.
Mind your step with these trip hazards:
- Exposed wiring and cabling
- Sharp edges
- Boxes and packaging lying around
- Shop floor fittings
- Badly built or poorly designed staircases
- Hidden or less visible steps or slopes
- Obstructed stairs, aisles, walkways and corridors
- Take action and don’t take the risk
Once you’ve identified any risks it’s important to take action and not ignore them. Put preventative measures in place to help reduce the chance of a slip or trip incident occurring. Get into the habit of cleaning and tidying as you go and train your staff to do the same. Make sure you inform customers and staff of any potential hazards immediately – don’t assume someone else will do it because the chances are they won’t.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce slips and trips:
- Routinely check for hazards
- Install non-slip flooring and carpeting
- Secure all mats and carpets
- Ensure floor coverings are in a good state of repair
- Replace or repair any broken flooring or steps
- Provide handrails and use high-traction treads on stairs
- Get into a habit of cleaning up any spillages immediately
- Remove any clutter from the floor
- Install strong lighting for low-lit areas
- What to do in the event of an accident
Despite the best of intentions, accidents will always happen. When they do, it’s important to handle the situation quickly and sensitively. Your primary concern should always be to ensure the injured party’s needs are met, whether by seeking medical assistance or simply helping them to their feet. Falling in public can be not only painful but embarrassing, so always deal with the situation in a sensitive manner. And of course, immediately do what you can to remove the hazard or avoid the same accident happening again so that no-one else is hurt.
If a slip or trip does occur, you must:
- Make sure it is recorded in your Accident Book
- Take photos of the scene
- Take the details of any witnesses to the incident
- If CCTV is available, retain the footage for further investigation
- Assist and support with any medical requirements
- Perform a regular risk assessment
Carrying out a regular risk assessment can help you to identify the risks that are present on your premises and implement preventative measures to reduce them. To help retailers like you, we have created an in-depth risk-assessment guide, full of useful information and usable solutions to help make your business a safer place. To download your FREE COPY, simply click here.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your staff and customers safe on your premises. If you fail to do so, the chances are a public or employers’ liability will be brought against you. At The Retail Mutual, we regularly deal with liability claims stretching into many thousands of pounds for injuries suffered on our Members’ premises. Without the right cover in place, this type of claim can be disastrous for your business.
If you employ any staff, even part-time or volunteers, you are required by law to have employers’ liability insurance in place, and any business dealing with face-to-face customers is strongly advised to have public liability cover to protect them. Cover for slips, trips and falls can be included as part of The Retail Mutual’s business cover offering which is specifically designed to suit the needs of independent retailers. Don’t take the risk. Get covered with The Retail Mutual, to find out more call 0333 3446 078 or start a quote online today.
Contributor: The Retail Mutual