If someone falls, or claims to have fallen, due to a slip on your premises, the key question from a responsibility standpoint is, were you negligent? And did your negligence contribute to the alleged accident?
Here’s how to best assure that you won’t be found negligent. You need to do everything a reasonable person can do to prevent such accidents, and document your efforts. Keep key documents in one place, perhaps in a logbook to show to plaintiff lawyers.
- Have on hand documentation of slip testing confirming that floor surfaces are as slip-resistant as reasonably practicable, and that the slip resistance is being monitored continually. Whether quarterly, semiannual, or annual testing is appropriate depends on the number of footfalls on the flooring area and other risk factors, such as liquids or snow being tracked in or potential spills. Safety Direct America can conduct monitoring for you, with reports signed and stamped by a state-registered Professional Engineer who is expert in slip prevention. We normally monitor both dry and wet, with both hard and soft shoe-bottom simulating materials. There are many accident claims on clean, dry floors, and though the footwear may be the cause it can be a great help to you to show ahead of time that your floors are safe when dry.
- Conduct and document a risk assessment for the flooring annually and after an accident or near-miss. A risk assessment might include items such as lighting; looking for trailing electrical cables and other trip hazards; extending and/or replacing walk-off matting; assessing whether anti-slip treatment of the floor is needed; and reviewing surveillance methods to find spills, etc. Again, Safety Direct America (1-800-988-6721) can help.
- Document the cleaning regime. In the case of restaurant kitchens that are idle late at night, cleaning is best done in the morning. This gives time for airborne fats from fryers, grills, etc. to settle onto the floor before the cleaning. No sense in cleaning the floor at night if it’s going to be greasy first thing in the morning! Bonus: your cleaning personnel might do a more thorough job if they don’t get to go home as soon as they’re done.
- Maintain a training log documenting training of floor maintenance personnel. If cleaning contractors are used, verify that they have continual training programs and that they maintain logs. Contractor floor maintenance personnel often have annual turnover of 400 percent or so, so that one-time training won’t do the job.
- Keep copies of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) of chemicals being used on the floor, and assessment of their effectiveness on cleanability and slip resistance.
- In the event of an accident, have a written procedure to investigate, remedy potential problems, and to document your actions. Then follow it.