The most common cause of a grocery store accident in Florida is slipping on a wet floor. This can happen anywhere on the property, but most frequently occurs near the entrance. For customers, falling down can be both embarrassing and painful. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) is a not-for-profit organization focused on preventing slip and fall accidents through education, research and standards. According to their research, over a million people are treated at emergency rooms due to slip and fall accidents every year.
Every day our Coral Gables personal injury lawyers investigate cases where a customer has fallen at a Florida business. For over 22 years I have handled cases across the state, from Jacksonville to Key West against grocery stores like Publix, Winn-Dixie and Whole Foods Market; department stores such as Macy’s, JC Penny’s and Nordstroms. Additionally, we have sued fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s; and big box retailers like Costco and Wal Mart. I want to share this valuable information with these businesses because I believe it will help prevent future customer accidents.
I believe that installing entrance floor mats can substantially lower the occurrence of slip and fall accidents. A properly placed floor mat absorbs the excess moisture that creates slippery conditions. Therefore, I recommend that floor mats are placed in the entrances of not only all Florida grocery stores, but also shopping malls, banks, hospitals, restaurants, hotels and even your local Starbucks.
Not all floor matting is created equally. Commercial floor mats must meet certain industry standards and must also be properly installed and maintained. Only floor mats made with slip resistant coating on both the bottom and top sides should be utilized. Our lawyers for slip and fall accidents have had cases where clients fell, after slipping on a floor mat that did not have an anti-slip bottom.
In addition, mats should have sloped edges that lay flat on the floor. Edges that are turned up may result in a tripping hazard. Due to South Florida’s humidity, only floor mats with antibacterial coatings should be used. Since they are designed to absorb the excess water that causes mold and mildew, they help prevent the mats from becoming slippery and dangerous.
In 2008, Stanford University published a “Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Guide” that identified rain water transmitted from open external doors, customer’s feet, clothing and umbrellas as the primary causes of a slip and fall accident. They recommended that businesses perform store-wide, fall hazard inspections annually; especially before the rainy season. For high-risk areas, quarterly formal inspections are recommended. Inspections should include the examination of floors and carpets, step conditions, floor maintenance protocols, housekeeping practices and lighting levels.
SLIP-RESISTANT FLOOR COATING
Florida stores can also prevent falls by utilizing slip-resistant floor coatings in areas that are likely to become wet or prone to frequent spills. Non-slip coatings can dramatically reduce slip and fall hazards without changing the look of most floors.
One of the more common causes of injury is when an employee leaves the scene of a spill before it is completely dry. Stores should maintain written housekeeping policies on how to clean up spills, including protocol for cleaning and drying greasy liquids and other foreign substances. Wet floor signs should be easily accessible by store employees to put over spills zones to alert customers of a slip hazard.
We are devoted to holding Florida’s businesses responsible for maintaining safe and clean environments for their customers. These recommendations will hopefully minimize injury, illness or death from slip, trip and fall incidents.