Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics paints a grim picture for the retail industry. From 2003 to 2012, the number of fatal workplace slip and fall accidents steadily increased by approximately 66% (i). The alarming increase applies to workplace slips, trips, and falls experienced by employees; these figures do not account for the accidents involving shoppers and other property guests. But why the steady increase?
Most slip and fall accidents are generally the result of a floor surface that has been improperly cleaned or maintained. Common examples of how floors may fall into disrepair and become dangerous include:
1. Becoming slippery over time, as the result of an abrasive or corrosive cleaning agent. In this instance, floors lose their grip and ability to provide friction, which ultimately leads to slippage.
2. Exhibiting a lip or uneven transition, as the result of poor construction or structural damage/shifting over time. For example, a hardwood floor may rise and ripple if installed directly on top of a concrete surface that has not been properly sealed and coated.
3. Accruing liquid or debris accumulation during days of inclement weather.
4. Poor lighting; though not directly associated with floor conditions, poor lighting can cause a slip, trip, or fall on well-maintained surfaces.
Tips for Preventing Slips in Retail
With the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, retailers are wise to take the following precautions to prevent slips and falls in the store:
1. Implement a crowd management plan
2. Brief employees on methods of spill cleanup and containment
3. Monitor local weather stations and plan for storms accordingly
4. Delegate ongoing cleaning duties to a specific employee or team of employees
5. Create a list of specific areas that must be monitored and cleaned throughout the day, emphasizing major entryways, corridors, display areas, loading docks, and other areas with a high degree of perceived risk.
6. Use commercial floor mats in heavily trafficked areas to keep floor surfaces clean, dry, and safe throughout the holidays.
7. Consider the use of wet umbrella bag stands to further reduce incoming liquid and debris on rainy and snowy days.
(i) Data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, years 2003 through 2012. To view these reports, visit the following URL: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm#2011