$3 Million Award a Wake-Up Call for Floor Care Standards
State laws are pretty consistent in requiring property owners to take every reasonable step to ensure visitor safety. Commercial property owners are held to a higher standard than people welcoming guests into their homes, but even owners of residential property must take a reasonable amount of care.
If you operate any sort of commercial enterprise, what is your company’s attitude toward floor care? This question arises out of a recent $3 million award given to an Ohio woman who slipped and fell at a Cincinnati casino. Whether or not you agree that her injuries warrant such a stiff penalty against the casino, the fact remains that premises liability could cost your company big.
What Happened at the Casino?
The Jack Casino in Cincinnati isn’t unlike any other casino in the US. Guests make their way throughout the property via a series of hallways that connect the casino with adjoining rooms and other public spaces. In the incident in question, a woman walking down one such hallway accidentally stepped on a collapsed ‘wet floor’ sign lying on in her path.
The sign sent her falling to the floor, whereupon she fractured her kneecap. The woman required surgery to insert metal hardware into the damaged bone. She sued, claiming a loss of quality of life as well as additional pain in an already arthritic knee. She may require a second surgery.
The core of the case against Jack Casino was one of negligence demonstrated in two ways. First, the plaintiff’s attorney accused the casino’s owners of not having standards and policies in place for dealing with wet floors. Second, they claimed negligence based on the fact that an employee walked right by the sign and didn’t pick it up just minutes before the woman fell.
Protecting Yourself Against Liability
The Ohio jury clearly felt as though Jack Casino was negligent enough to have to pay $3 million. As a business owner, we trust you do not want to find yourself in a comparable situation. The good news is you don’t have to. You can take every reasonable step to guarantee visitor safety.
Alsco, the company that pioneered uniform rental in the U.S., explains that a good starting point is putting down floor mats in strategic locations. Floor mats should be placed, at the very least, at every public entrance. They are deployed in order to prevent people from having to walk through standing water, ice, or snow.
In cases of wet floors left behind by improper mopping procedures, employers have an obligation to teach their workers how to mop correctly. Using a wet mop the way it is intended to be used does not leave standing water behind. It leaves only a very slight layer of moisture which should evaporate in a few minutes.
Keep Walkways Open
In addition to floor mats, proper mopping procedures and the appropriate signage, employers have a responsibility to make sure that all walkways are kept open and free of obstacles. In public spaces where guests are known to move, that means making sure all aisles, halls, etc. are completely free of any and all clutter. In an industrial environment, keeping walkways open is a more complicated exercise.
Any way you slice it, the point is that slip and fall injuries cost companies tens of millions of dollars every year. It doesn’t need to be this way. The $3 million award in Ohio is a wake-up call for floor care standards and best practices among business owners. Premises liability is too expensive to ignore proper floor care.