McDonald's Franchise - 3 Tips to Avoid Costly Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims

Owner / Operators of McDonald’s franchises, like any other business owner, are responsible for the safety and maintenance of their premises.

Fall injuries are the leading cause of visits to the emergency room (21.3%) and account for more than 8 million ER visits every year. Slip and fall injuries account for more than 1 million visits, representing 12% of all total falls.

Slip, trip, and fall injuries account for 70% of injury claims litigated by restaurants throughout the United States every year. Forty percent of these claims can be categorized by location, with 28% of injuries occurring inside a restaurant and 72% occurring outside the restaurant.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, more than 1 million guests are injured in restaurant slips, trips, and falls every year. Fall injuries can be particularly severe because a fall can cause injuries to multiple body parts.

While not every incident is preventable, there are steps you can take as a business owner to reduce the exposure to a costly claim from a slip, trip, or fall.

Leading Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to create a safe environment for your employees and your guests.

Common causes of slips, trips, and falls include:

  • Wet floors due to cleaning
  • Food, grease, and liquid spills in the dining area, especially near beverage stations
  • Changing weather conditions, including tracked in rain or snow
  • Changes in surface conditions, such as uneven pavement, potholes, or transitions

Avoid Costly Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims With These 4 Tips

1. Train Employees to Identify and Reduce Fall Hazards

The return on investment from training and developing your staff is a no brainer. Not only does training give your team a greater understanding of their responsibilities, but training increases productivity and adherence to quality standards you need to run a successful franchise.

  • Conduct daily and weekly staff meetings to discuss any unsafe conditions employees observe.
  • Teach employees on what to do when they see a fall hazard and how they can mark and clean a spill properly.
  • Discuss the importance of proper documentation and reporting systems for staff to identify unsafe conditions, and how to handle a guest that fell.
  • Instruct employees that flooring and outdoor walkways should be checked weekly, and any corrective action noted.
  • Parking lots should be free from potholes, cracks, and depressions, and should be well-lit with handrails, as appropriate.

Once you have been notified of potential fall hazards, do not delay in making any repair — address fall hazards immediately.

By beginning to follow the above and staying up-to-date on training, you can minimize your exposure to costly claims.

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2. Keep Walkways Clean and Clear

Restaurants have the potential for spills, especially around beverage stations.  Beverage stations should be monitored closely for any hazards such as spills, ice, food, or other debris.  Any observed spills should be promptly cleaned up, and guests warned using high visibility caution cones.

Employees should be trained to dry mop wet floors immediately. An employee should never walk past a spill, and should always set a caution floor cone, clean up the spill, and dry the area, leaving the cone out until the area is dry.

Customers can also create spills that can become fall risks. The soda fountain is an area of particular concern, as well as bathrooms and obstructions that can protrude into typical walking paths. Check bathrooms regularly.

Train staff to watch out for obstructions and to notify a manager immediately. Obstacles may include hazards that are difficult to see, as well as electrical cords, parking lot bumpers, speed bumps, and other environmental factors.

3. Be Prepared for Adverse Weather Conditions

It’s so easy to be caught up in the day-to-day of owning a franchise that weather can often be overlooked. When weather changes, there are fall hazards to manage both inside and outside of the restaurant.

When the floor is wet from rain or snow, place high visibility “wet floor” caution cones inside and outside at the entrance to the restaurant.

Walk-off mats 8 to 10 feet long should be in place and not substantially higher than the floor — no more than ½ inch. Replace mats as they become saturated, mop standing water, and make sure mats remain flat and do not roll-up.  Inspect mats periodically, and replace worn mats. A worn mat can cause more harm than good.

Snow removal should be pre-arranged, and the restaurant should have sand or ice-melting products available.

Before bad weather hits, make sure to protect your guests. Communicate to your restaurants what they should expect and how they should prepare.

Protect your employees, guests, and your franchise from costly claims

By staying vigilant, you can help your restaurants prevent claims arising from slips, trips, and falls.  Even with the most vigilant routines and protocols, accidents can still happen. McGowan is here to help.

McGowan Program Administrators was founded in 1954 and has remained a stable and reliable insurer in an evolving marketplace. In addition to providing great insurance coverage and the finest service in the industry, the McGowan family is committed to providing employee training, continuing education, constructive seminars, and creative team building for McDonald’s franchisees.

We invite you to learn more about our Package Insurance Program for McDonald’s Franchisees and to contact us today at or 888-892-2373.