Four Things Restaurant Owners Need to Know About Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Posted on: 18 October 2016

The last thing any restaurant owner wants to have happen is for a customer, vendor, or other guest in their place of business to experience a slip-and-fall accident while on the premises. Spills go hand-in-hand with owning and operating a restaurant, so constant vigilance is important in order to safeguard your investment. Certain safeguards are simply a matter of common sense, such as having janitorial duties involving mopping floors performed during hours when the business is closed. However, several strategies exist for minimizing slip-and-fall mishaps and other potential lawsuit-causing conditions that many business owners haven't thought about. The following are four of them. 

Don't Understaff 

An overworked floor staff is a recipe for disaster in any restaurant environment. Spills are just a part of life in most restaurants, and if your waiters and waitresses are overwhelmed with other duties, it may be easy for them to put spill-cleanup duties on the back burner. Just one more person on staff to take up any slack may be the factor that prevents you from facing a serious lawsuit in the event that something gets spilled on your floor. Some restaurant owners attempt to cut costs by cutting staff, but this often backfires in unpleasant ways. Even an extra person for two hours during the busy breakfast, lunch, or dinner hours makes a difference. 

Have a Plan 

Including a cleanup plan in your safety discussions with employees ensures that spills are dealt with in an effective, timely fashion. The last thing that should happen when a spill occurs is for employees to look the other way hoping that someone else will clean it up. Waiters and waitresses usually work in designated sections, and even though dishwashers and bus staff are the ones doing the actual cleanup, it's good policy to require that waiters and waitresses act as first responders in the event of spills. For instance, they can block the area off from foot traffic until the cleanup crew arrives instead. You should also stress to your employees that even if they feel it isn't their job to clean up spills, you consider the safety of restaurant patrons to be everyone's responsibility. Proper spill-cleanup procedures should also be a part of your plan.

Staff should be trained to always be on the lookout for spills. Spills may not always be obvious, and patrons may not bring them to staff's attention. 

Staff should be aware of the potential hazards caused by ice. Ice bounces, slips, and slides, and a single ice cube can end up far from the site of the spill. When the ice melts, it poses a slip-and-fall hazard of its own. 

Staff should ensure that the area is fully dry before they open it back up to foot traffic.

Be Prepared

Keeping cleanup supplies in a shelf at the front-desk station ensures that employees won't have to run to a back closet and rummage for cleaning supplies in the event of a spill. Keep in mind that every second counts in situations such as these, so at the very least, always make certain that the front-desk station of your restaurant is well stocked with soft, absorbent rags. 

Consider Carpeting   

Although the classic look of a well-kept hardwood floor adds a certain appeal to any restaurant environment, these types of floors come with higher slip-and-fall potential than their carpeted counterparts. If your restaurant caters to a family crowd and often serves groups with small children in attendance, you might want to consider carpeting in order to maximize customer safety and minimize possible slip-and-fall lawsuits. 

For more information on safeguarding your restaurant from slip-and-fall lawsuits, please feel free to contact a local personal-injury lawyer, such as one from Clearfield & Kofsky, at your convenience.