Avoiding Accidents in Your Store
It's every store owner's worst nightmare, and for good reason.
Someone slipping in your store could be the start of the end for any business, but especially in retail, hospitality and other customer-facing businesses.
Most small businesses cannot deal with a big lawsuit, which we should assume would be the outcome of an accident. As well as lawsuits, slips, trips and falls contribute to employee absenteeism, reduced motivation and large sums of sick pay.
That all sounds pretty scary, but the great news is that the risk of slips trips and falls can be reduced significantly with just a few small changes and investments. But first, let's dig a little deeper into the potential accidents that can occur in any workplace.
The slip problem defined
Slip injuries occur when the floor does not provide enough grip on the sole of a shoe or foot. These are often caused by:
- Snow, rain or ice from outside
- Unsafe surfaces such as degraded non-slip floors
- Dropped groceries
- Fast food spills
- Soap from floor cleaning
- Footwear without cleats or other non-slip features
Unfortunately, slips are statistically inevitable unless you make sure you’ve got a non-slip surface. This risk increases with the amount of footfall that your workplace sees, so it is particularly important to reduce slips in high traffic areas.
Slip prevention options
Slips can be easily avoided with a simple flooring solution, such as:
Undeniably the best option for managing slip risks, anti slip mats are a comparatively new solution. There’s a large range of new types of safety mats now on the market that provide very reliable prevention for slip issues. These mats are excellent for high use areas. Additionally, portable mats provide effective damage control around spills or hazards.
The mats provide good traction, are waterproof, and are very reliable. They also do a lot to reduce the effect of a fall that results from a slip incident. They’re resilient and made of rubber, so the fall impact is reduced significantly. You may have seen some of these mats in big stores as walkways or around entrances. They’re quite common around railway stations and other public areas as well.
Heavy duty carpets
They're not entirely slip-immune, but heavy duty carpets are also good at reducing the damage from falls. They also provide a lot more traction for feet. These are a good anti-slip option where décor issues dictate a store image.
In practice, a lot of high-end stores are getting the message about mats and combining them with carpets to cover their backs in the case of an accident.
The other big issue with slip prevention is that it can be a very complex process to manage flooring. It can also be expensive. The comparison of costs comes down on the side of mats, but interior design is always a big investment for a business. In practice, a redesign plan has to factor in risk management as well as cost management.
Generally speaking, the redesign will work on a strictly practical basis. The mats and walkway covers are used in dedicated public areas like fast lines, entrances, and high usage zones such as staff amenities rooms. Carpets are used in other areas, offices and workstation areas. In addition to being a good aesthetic mix, the ability to choose different options makes this solution work for any budget.
The trip problem defined
Trip injuries occur when an object blocks your path without your notice, causing you to trip over it. Trips are often caused by hazards such as:
Trip prevention options
- Loose carpets, mats and planks
- Cracked tiles
- Hidden steps
- Poor lighting
- Cluttered entrances
- Uneven paving
There are some great interventions to reduce the chance of trips occurring at your workplace:
Low Profile Mats
Low profile mats are to trips what anti slip mats are to slips! They get their name from their short height that allows them to lay close to the floor. This height gives the mats a non-obtrusive character that doubles up as a safety measure. Low profile matting
is easy to walk over and unlikely to cause a trip, especially due to their ramped edges.
If you need a heavy duty mat that doesn't have a low profile option, ramped edges can reduce their slip hazard. Ramped edges provide a seamless join between the mat and the floor, so wheels can easily manoeuvre over the top and people will not trip on the straight edge. Ramped edges can be added to many mats, so are a great option if you already have a mat you love, but need to make it safer.
The fall problem defined
Falls are usually the result of slips or trips and end with the person on the floor - often in a lot of pain. While slips and trips do not directly cause injury, the resulting fall can lead to anything from a sprained wrist to a broken neck. To prevent falls in your store, we should look at reducing slips and trips.
The risks of slips, trips and falls
When slips or trips end in falls, the risk is huge not just to the faller but to you as the business owner. If someone falls while visiting your business, you can expect:
- Instant business liability
- Serious injuries, particularly to children
- Civil lawsuits in relation to how you manage any claim if the litigant isn’t happy with the outcome
That all sounds expensive, because it is. There are legitimate grounds for litigation in all these situations and lawyers are not known for their cheap prices. Slips, trips and falls are one area where a small investment in prevention can save you a fortune.
Take a good look at your store and what you can do to improve each area's safety. Consider adding mats in your entranceway
and any other high traffic areas. Anywhere that can be made safer is likely to save you money and reputation in the long run.
In most places, and in all Australian states, it is the law to provide adequate safety measures for slips, trips and falls. Make sure you know the regulations in your area an