Does this sound like a headline from the National Enquirer? It is actually a very real possibility.

Bob, the dad in question, decided to take his son Trevor to a fast food restaurant for a quick dinner. On the way to fill up their drink cups, Bob slipped on a puddle of water (from a faulty ice maker) falling and injuring his knee. The employees helped him up, filled out the proper incident report, and Bob drove home with Trevor, feeling slightly embarrassed for falling.

It ends here, right? Wrong.

Bob decided to get his knee checked by an orthopedic doctor, who told him he had a torn ACL and needed surgery. When the day of the surgery came, Bob was put under anesthesia and never woke up.
Through no fault of the medical team, Bob died on the table during a routine surgery. But this surgery would never have taken place if he had not slipped and fell on a puddle from a faulty ice machine on the restaurant’s premises. This slip-and-fall ended up costing a family his father, and the owner of the restaurant $4MM and his franchise.

While most slip and fall incidents don’t end up with such serious injuries or financial payouts, they are the most frequent type of liability claim made against a restaurant.

Slips occur when too little friction/ traction exists between a surface and a person’s foot. Common causes include:

  • Wet and/ or oily surfaces
  • Accidental spills
  • Weather related hazards (snow, ice, rain)
  • Loose, unanchored rugs or mats
  • Varying grade and traction of surface due to age/ disrepair

Trips occur where one’s foot collides with another object causing a loss of balance and a fall or bodily impact with the floor or another surface. Common causes include:

  • Obstructed views and poor lighting
  • Clutter in walkways
  • Wrinkled carpets
  • Loose, uncovered cables
  • Uneven (steps, thresholds) walking surfaces

Most causes of slips and trips can be easily mitigated through good housekeeping.

  • Constantly sweep debris from floors and mop all spills
  • Flag food or beverage spills and other wet areas immediately
  • Keep all walkways free of clutter
  • Floors in entryways and dish areas should have appropriate anti-fatigue mats
  • Secure (tacking, taping, etc.) mats, rugs and carpets that do not lay flat
  • Work areas for employees and all guest walkways should remain well lit
  • Replace used light bulbs and faulty switches
  • Require all employees to wear safe slip resistant shoes

Despite your best efforts, even the best practices can’t avoid all accidents. Knowing you have an insurance agent who cares and a carrier who will get you through the tough times can make all the difference. McGowan Program Administrators would like to be that for you. In the event the worst happens, families like Bob’s will be taken care of, and your business will be able to continue to provide for yours.
For submissions and questions about our National Restaurant Owners Umbrella program, please contact Neil McGowan (npm@mcgowanins.com) or Alison Gates (agates@mcgowanins.com).

Thank you for Thinking McGowan!