“You’re going to have different
defenses with respect to the defect that
is being claimed,” said Kari Melkonian,
a Michigan-based attorney of Collins,
Einhorn, Farrell PC, who defends
insureds and their insurance companies
in slip-and-fall cases.
“Premises owners, in general, have a
duty to protect invitees against known
dangerous conditions on the property.
Landlords owe additional statuatory
duties to their tenants,” Melkonian said.
Videotaping store aisles can help a
defendant if it can be shown that 90
people walked down a given aisle in
one afternoon and only one of them
fell and there was no evidence of water
or any other hazard, she said.
Like Engle Martin’s Gelok,
Melkonian said training employees
to document the circumstances of
the incident well, including taking
photographs and interviewing the
person that fell, are best practices.
In 2010, commercial insurer CNA
noticed an uptick in general liability
claims involving slips and falls. The
company set out to learn more about
the topic and came up with some
In a two-year study of hard surface
floors in commercial workplaces, CNA
found that 50 percent of the surfaces
studied did not meet the minimum
traction standards set by the American
National Standards Institute.
“From both the frequency and the
severity standpoint, safety managers
for these types of facilities aren’t always
aware of the extent of their slip-and-fall
exposure,” said Steve Hernandez, senior
vice president of risk control, CNA.
CNA’s study authors came up with
four key strategies to implement:
Select the right flooring. This
includes not only the properties of the
flooring itself, but also the space and
Test your floors for slip
resistance. The science of tribometry
measures slip resistance. This allows
premises owners to better comply with
flooring manufacturers’ specifications;
Choose the right cleaning
agents: This one gets complicated. It
involves insuring that cleaning vendors
are not only using the right cleaning
agents for the type of flooring they are
cleaning, but that they are financially
stable, ethically sound and operate under
a strong risk management structure.
Even the way you store a mop
matters, said CNA’s Hernandez.
“The handle end should point down.
Keeping the mop end on the floor
means it’s always in contact with debris
and won’t clear away contaminants as
Promote awareness of slip-and-fall hazards. This involves removing
walkway obstacles, displaying signage
in areas with floor elevation changes,
placing mats near doorway entrances and
using design that reduces reflective glare.
Falls among adults are the most
common cause of traumatic brain
injury. The CNA study reports that
among its closed claims between
2007 and 2012, the average cost of
a traumatic brain injury in a general
liability claim was $269,643. The
average cost of a traumatic brain injury
in workers’ comp claims was $259,153.
EPIC’s Palmer said “underwriters
are looking for good visibility and
good reporting not just on the metrics
as far as the final results, but also
causality. They’re looking toward a
comprehensive approach in terms of
how you address it from a training
perspective and the scientific aspect,
making sure that you have corporately
approved cleaning agents that work
well in your environment.” &
DAN REYNOLDS is editor-in-chief of
Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at