Falls are a serious and common problem for many Americans. According to the CDC, one in every five falls results in a severe injury such as a broken bone or head injury. These injuries may make daily life and independent living challenging for those who suffer them.

June is National Safety Month, bringing an opportunity to raise awareness about slip and fall prevention. By addressing the leading causes of preventable fall-related injuries, you can help to ensure the safety of visitors on your property or employees at your business.

Most Common Falls on Commercial Properties

Commercial properties are prone to slip and fall accidents, with slips, trips, and falls being the most common causes of injuries in retail stores. These kinds of falls can result in serious injuries if not handled correctly. The most common causes of falls on commercial properties include:

  • Wet and Uneven Floors: When water and cleaning agents spill onto the floor, the surface becomes wet and slippery, making it easy for people to fall when walking on it. Uneven surfaces like loose carpeting or cracked pavement can also create unexpected changes in the walking surface, causing visitors to lose their balance or misstep. When someone trips on an uneven surface, they may be unable to catch themselves or regain their balance, leading to a fall.
  • Unsafe Stairs: Louisiana law requires that steps do not exceed seven inches in height. Stairs should have at least one handrail that extends beyond the top and bottom steps and is thirty-two inches high from the steps. If the stairs on the property don’t meet Louisiana’s building code, it can endanger visitors’ safety and make them vulnerable to tripping and falling.
  • Poor Lighting: Insufficient lighting in a building or outdoor area can create an unsafe environment, particularly for spotting obstacles and potential hazards on the ground, such as uneven surfaces, cracks in the pavement, or wet areas. When visitors can’t see where they are going, they can lose their balance and trip, resulting in an injury.

How to Protect Yourself from Slips, Trips, and Falls

When you visit a commercial property, such as a retail store, grocery store, or commercial business, you can take steps to prevent slips, trips, and falls. Safety tips include:

  • Look for Posted Warning Signs: As a visitor to a commercial business, it’s essential to watch for signage that indicate a wet floor or to use caution. These signs are typically placed in areas with potential slip, trip, or fall hazards and can help avoid accidents.
  • Use Stair Handrails: When ascending or descending stairs, use the handrails, even when carrying items. Grabbing onto the railing provides extra support when navigating stairwells and can help you regain your balance if you lose your footing.
  • Watch Out for Slippery Surfaces: Be cautious when walking on wet surfaces, as they can be slippery and increase the risk of falls. Wear appropriate footwear, such as shoes with rubber soles, low heels, and non-skid sole designs.

Check for Sufficient Lighting at a Commercial Property

If you notice non-working lights or dimly lit areas, tell management immediately so they can address the issue. Consider bringing a small flashlight or using the flashlight function on your phone when visiting a large business with poorly lit parking areas to help you navigate safely and avoid potential hazards.

What Businesses Can Do to Protect Visitors

Property and business owners must maintain their premises to prevent slip and fall injuries under Louisiana premises liability law. To ensure the safety of their visitors, retailers, and commercial property owners can do the following:

  • Install handrails and adequate lighting in stairwells to prevent accidents
  • Regularly patrol and monitor parking lots to deter criminal activity and ensure visitor safety
  • Provide adequate lighting in all areas
  • Post signage immediately to warn visitors of hazards, and address dangers as soon as possible
  • Promptly clean up any spills or debris to prevent slip and fall accidents
  • Clearly mark and maintain fire exits and emergency evacuation routes
  • Regularly inspect the property for potential hazards
  • Implement regular cleaning and maintenance schedules for all areas of the property, including stairwells, parking lots, and common areas

Contact Dudley DeBosier After Your Slip and Fall Accident

During National Safety Month, it is essential to ensure visitors’ safety at commercial properties. The slip and fall attorneys at Dudley DeBosier can assist you if you were injured in a slip and fall accident on a commercial property. Our team can explain your rights and legal options under premises liability laws and help you pursue a claim against the responsible property owner.

Contact us for a free case review by filling out an online form or calling one of our offices across Louisiana.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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