Most business owners are well aware that they have a duty to provide a safe environment for customers or clients. While slips and falls are the primary concern for business owners, liability extends to other types of injuries, and they can be held responsible for injuries to workers and just about anyone else who lawfully steps onto the property.
Along with slips and falls, business owners can also be held liable for:
- Merchandise or equipment injuring a customer
- An employee or customer assaulting another customer
- Hazardous waste running off the business’ property onto a neighboring property
The list of potential risks is extensive, which is why business owners must remain vigilant in minimizing the risks of premises liability claims.
An excerpt from personal injury attorney David E. Gordon’s website explains premises liability very well:
“Those who own property owe a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid injuries to visitors on their property. So, if a property owner’s negligent maintenance, operation or design of the property caused your slip and fall injury, the owner could be held liable. The duty also applies to those who merely occupy property such as tenants.”
Fortunately, there are steps business owners can take to minimize the risks of liability. These include:
1. Conduct Inspections Regularly
Conducting inspections regularly will help you and your employees identify potential dangers before they become a serious problem. Inspections should look for potentially unsafe conditions in both individual workspaces, like offices and cubicles, and the property as a whole.
Regular inspections may be time consuming and hinder productivity, but they can help you identify potential problems before employees and/or customers are injured.
2. Correct Problems ASAP
If a problem is discovered during an inspection or pointed out to you by an employee or customer, take steps to correct the issue as soon as possible.
Unsafe conditions should be corrected immediately to minimize the risk of injury and potential lawsuits.
One way to ensure that unsafe conditions are taken care of promptly is to implement policies and procedures that address common issues, like snow and ice on walkways and cleaning up spills. These policies and procedures should be crystal clear, so employees know exactly what to do when the situation arises.
3. Warn Others of Dangers
In some cases, unsafe conditions cannot be corrected immediately. Some repairs may require help from a professional, which can take time to complete.
A hole in the floor or a leak in the ceiling will take longer to repair than a spill on the floor.
When problems cannot be corrected immediately, it’s important to warn visitors of the potential danger. Displaying conspicuous warning signs is the most effective way to do this.
You’ve probably seen “Caution: Wet Floor” signs in stores and office buildings. These signs not only help visitors avoid injuries, but also provide the business with a layer of protection against liability claims.
While there is no surefire way to protect your business from liability claims, taking these three steps will minimize the risks and demonstrate that you took the appropriate steps to address the issue.