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A slip and fall accident may be amusing in slapstick comedy, but in reality it's no joke. Slips and falls account for a significant number of injuries to customers and employees every year.

The causes of slip and fall accidents are varied, ranging from wet or greasy floors, clutter and debris, to uneven surfaces, improper cleaning, lack of hazard identification and – in a small number of cases – fraud. And yet, slips and falls are the most preventable accidents to occur in the workplace.

The financial impact of a slip and fall accident can range from minor inconvenience to massive liability, depending on the circumstances. Employers also suffer a loss of productivity when employees are injured and off the clock.

Make sure you have adequate business liability insurance coverage for slip and fall accidents to cover customer and non-employee claims, as well as workers compensation coverage to protect employees. In addition, a business umbrella policy adds an extra measure of protection if the liability exposure exceeds the limits of the base policy.

Effective slip and fall accident prevention methods go beyond just clearing away clutter or placing a "Wet Floor" sign at a slippery entrance. Establish a program that addresses prevention, as well as employee response if someone does get injured.

To reduce the incidence of slip and fall accidents at your business, as well as protect yourself in the event of a claim:

  • Conduct a daily safety survey to look for common culprits such as wet or greasy floors, loose mats, torn carpeting, bad lighting, clutter, cables or wires, and uneven floors.
  • Immediately attend to any problems by putting up warning signs and taking steps to quickly eliminate the hazard.
  • Maintain all floors and walkways on a consistent basis, using the recommended cleaning products and methods. Fix all uneven surfaces if possible by recoating or leveling the floor, or illuminate (or otherwise identify) areas that can’t easily be leveled.
  • Train your employees in slip and fall safety, and establish guidelines on how employees should report problems and respond to customer injuries or hazardous situations. Install secure handrails near all stairs and balconies.
  • Take care of your outdoor areas, including sidewalks and parking lots. Potholes, snow and ice all create potential problems. If necessary, subcontract snow and ice removal to make sure it’s handled promptly.
  • Document all of your efforts by keeping records of your daily safety inspections, maintenance work and how you dealt with any slip and fall accidents.

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