Small business owners in Ontario have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain reasonably safe premises. This includes taking steps to prevent slip and fall accidents by employees and members of the general public. Accident prevention is a special concern in winter months but is a year-round consideration.
An owner or occupier who fails to maintain safe premises may be liable in an injury claim or lawsuit.
Below are seven tips to help prevent slip and fall accidents in your place of business.
1. Establish a snow and ice removal plan – Do not wait until the first snowflake of the season to determine how you’ll handle property maintenance throughout the winter. Begin well in advance of the weather to hire snow and ice removal services. Outline all areas that require upkeep, such as sidewalks, stairways, parking lots and pathways. Determine what will be included in the service, such as shoveling, plowing, salting and more. Ensure the removal will always take place in a timeframe that allows for safe passage during business hours.
2. Train staff – Custodial and other staff should be properly trained in cleaning protocol. For example, grocery store managers should train staff on how to respond to a product spill that could create a slip hazard. This may include proper mopping techniques, instruction on use of cleaning products and how to section off an unsafe area.
3. Install proper lighting – Ensure all sidewalks, stairways, aisles and parking lots have sufficient lighting. Customers and other individuals should be able to see clearly where they are walking and any possible obstacles, such as puddles and misplaced objects.
4. Maintain a property in good repair – Routine maintenance and safety inspections can go a long way to prevent slip and fall accidents. Fix loose floorboards and carpeting. Repair leaks and install devices to prevent the buildup of snow and ice on the roof and overhangs. Repair uneven stairs and install safety railings. Consider hiring a safety consultant to assess the business for any potential hazards. Remedy any shortcomings in a timely fashion.
5. Warn of any potential dangers – Use appropriate signage to warn the public of any potential hazards. This may include areas of the building/property that are particularly vulnerable to changes in weather, such as the sidewalk directly outside a door or a recently mopped floor.
6. Install slip-resistant flooring materials – Choose high-traction materials when building, remodeling or expanding. Avoid materials like ceramic tile because it can be especially slippery – particularly when wet. Work with a flooring expert to select materials with built-in traction and slip-resistant textures. A professional may retrofit existing flooring materials to increase traction.
7. Use non-slip rugs – Discard any rugs lacking slip-resistant backing. Or ensure rugs are securely affixed to flooring with use of adhesive materials.
Have you experienced serious injury during a slip and fall accident at an Ontario business? Schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer at Preszler Law — call 1-800-JUSTICE®.