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Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in Restaurants

December 20, 2019

Restaurants are busy places. With diners, servers, cooks, busboys, managers and others coming and going, the potential for accidents and injury can be high, especially from slips, trips and falls (STF).

STF is among the leading accidents affecting a restaurant’s General Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. It’s estimated that 25% of slips are related to footwear choices, 25% are due to physical and mental disposition, and 50% are attributed to the floor. That means restaurants must do everything they can to ensure their floors are as clean and clutter-free as possible to limit their risk.

Here are five ways restaurants can prevent slips, trips and falls.

·        Keep Floors Clean: Many restaurants have grouted tile floors creating low friction surfaces due to poor cleaning practices. These surfaces can become coated with crud and dirt that lower the Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF), a ratio between the floor’s resistance to slipping and a person’s footstep. As the grout lines become dirty, the floor’s natural water-channeling ability is replaced with a slippery substance. When activated with liquids, that substance may spread onto a tile’s surface, increasing fall potential. Ensuring your floors are as clean as possible will help increase friction and reduce the potential for STF.

·        Keep Floors Dry: Food and beverage spills, ice, weather and other materials can increase the potential for STF injuries. Be sure to keep patrons away from wet floors by cordoning off areas with chairs, wet floor signs, cones or caution tape. The use of deck brushes to deep clean, and dual cavity mop buckets to separate fresh from dirty cleaning solution, help the cleaning process.

·        Keep Floors Clear: The other side of STFs are trips, which are considered forward falls (opposed to “slipping” backwards or sideways). Trips occur due to the momentary interruption of one’s gait by an obstruction or irregularity on a walkway surface. Inside trips may be due to low-friction floor mats, backing or curled edges, wet floor signs, chairs in aisle spaces, mop buckets or other materials on the walkways. Watch for such obstructions and remove or fix them immediately.

·        Remember Outside: Exterior trips are often due to poor parking lot and sidewalk conditions.  Pavement cracks and potholes, especially when hidden beneath rainwater, are especially hazardous. Sidewalks with raised adjoining slabs are notorious for tripping and falling. Other hazards include landscaping, such as poorly fitted pavers, protruding sprinkler heads and edging. If your outside areas or lots are in disrepair, invest in fixes to help avoid a much more costly claim in the future.

·        Get Technical & Enlist Experts: Learning your floor tile SCOF score is among the most effective ways to prevent slips. Instead of rubbing your shoe across a tile to estimate friction, use a Tribometer (slip meter) and a Walkway Auditor to measure performance against national standards. The recommendations of SCOF testing may be professional cleaning, an approved slip treatment, or improvements to floor maintenance tools and practices. External trip hazard prevention begins with identification. An auditing checklist can help, or solicit the experience of a Walkway Auditor.  

Investing in the right resources and practices to keep your floors clean, free and clear can help prevent costly STF claims in the future.

Learn more about Lovitt & Touché’s full slate of restaurant insurance offerings.