Slips, trips and falls are among the major causes of accidents in the restaurant business. Not only can the potential injury result in pain and suffering for the injured customer, these accidents reflect adversely on your business in the community. In addition they also impact your insurance claims experience and insurability as a business owner.
Employees as well are subject to injury at work. Each of your employees should be on your "safety team" and constantly alert to any unsafe conditions or unsafe acts which could lead to an accident. As a member of your "safety team," your employees should have the knowledge and authority to take corrective action when unsafe conditions or unsafe acts are observed. The safety and well-being of your customers and employees should be one of the major concerns and objectives of the day-to-day operation of your business. While not every accident is preventable, there are many precautions you can take to protect your employees and your customers from a slip, trip or fall.
Inside Your Restaurant
The vast majority of all slip and fall accidents involve water (including ice and snow) on the walking surface. The following are potential trouble spots and conditions which could lead to a slip accident.
The entrance and foyer are real hazards in wet weather, and walk-off mats should be provided at all entry doors used by customers. These mats should be able to absorb the water from wet shoes and boots so the possibility of slip and fall accidents is reduced. Maintain an adequate back-up supply of mats so if wet weather conditions persist, the saturated mats can be replaced as they become ineffective instead of adding to the problem.
If the floor in these areas tends to get wet and slippery even with the use of walk-off mats, there are several other precautions you should take to prevent slip and fall accidents. First, a mop bucket and wringer, along with a good mop will help to keep conditions under control if water starts to build up on the floor. Also, portable signs warning of "WET FLOORS" can be used both outside and inside the doors to alert customers of the slippery conditions.
The manager or supervisor on duty should have the responsibility of checking on a frequent basis to make certain that the area is safe.
The dining and lounge areas can present the same conditions as the entry way because of spills or wet footwear. The clean-up/mop-up precautions mentioned above should also be practiced in these areas. Tile floors, carpets or other floor covering should be in good condition (no holes, tears, cracks or missing sections) and checked on a regular (weekly) basis with immediate corrective action taken if any unsafe conditions are noted.
Aisles, waiting areas, and restroom floors should also be checked frequently during business hours to make sure they are dry, clear, and free of hazards.
Inside stairs should have treads, tread covers, or carpeting that is free of tears, holes or any other condition which could cause a trip or fall. There should be a sturdy handrail on each side of the stairs and adequate lighting on every flight of stairs used by your customers.
Chairs that collapse can cause serious injury to your customers. Inspect them every week. Defective chairs and seats should be removed from the property so they cannot be put back into use.
Outside Your Restaurant
Your parking lot, sidewalks and outside stairs should be your main areas of concern when it comes to the control of slip and fall accidents outside the building.
Parking lots and sidewalks should be clean and level without potholes, depressions or cracks which could cause customers to trip and fall. There should be adequate lighting for nighttime use. Downspouts that empty water onto the parking lot or sidewalks should be redirected to a dry well or other area. If ice and snow are possibilities in your area, make arrangements to have the snow removed as soon as possible after each storm. Have sand or ice melting chemicals available to spread on ice that might form as melting and re-freezing occurs.
Outside stairs should be in good repair with no cracked or worn treads and should not create a slip and fall hazard when wet. Stairs should have a sturdy, secure handrail on both sides so patrons entering and leaving have access to a handrail. Snow and ice removal is extremely important.
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