Legal liability for slippery floors
involves you if you buy, or resell for use, cleaning products which cause slippery
surfaces. Most floor cleaning chemicals do nothing to eradicate the dangerous conditions
graphically displayed in the following diagrams (including most hard mineral
Proof of knowledge a product will reduce the threat, increases liability: If you check it
out and it works, and you don't use it, your risks increase substantially! However, the
simple fact of a company claiming its product produces slip-resistance cannot
be used as a defense against a slip/fall suit.
The reseller or end user must prove "reasonable care" was used, when determining
the validity of such claims. Remember, using floor cleaners you know have no
slip-resistant qualities, or even should have known, could make you liable for punitive
damages also. In several states, you cannot obtain insurance to protect against punitive
damages which frequently arise in slip/fall cases.
Alarming statistics, obtained from the National Safety Council, U.S. Department of Labor,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Department Of Health And Human Services, allow courts
to identify slip/fall accidents as the number one non-vehicular cause of accidental death.
One hundred billion dollars per year is spent on the survivors. Worker's compensation
claims are at an all time high. Juries award 300% more $1,000,000+ damage claims than just
a few years ago. 1,600,000 people are permanently disabled each year, from slip/fall
accidents. Ironically, most chemical companies blame cleaning procedures for coefficient
of friction (COF) failure, rather than the cleaning product, in an attempt to avoid
Obtain Proof Of Product Effectiveness
Make them prove their product works! Demand original documentation, with real figures,
through surveys conducted by Workers' Compensation Insurance Claims Agents, certifying the
use of the product has significantly reduced slip/fall claims. If they don't have it,
don't buy it. You may be paying for a lot more than just the cost of the chemical!
Require an affidavit, testifying the product does in fact increase COF (opposite of
slipperiness) and, more importantly, when used as directed on a daily basis, adequate
slip-resistance will be produced. If they will not supply such safeguards and
independently certified tests, be wary.
Demand documentation, under reasonable cleaning procedures, a product delivers a specific
COF, as considered by experts to be of probative value, when used as a defense against
negligence claims. Require extensive documentation the product delivered acceptable COF,
on a variety of surfaces, reporting the types of surfaces, "time" tested. Then
you will have something to defend yourself with in court.
Gary Holt is president of pHluorus Inc. Included are excerpts
from a memorandum, submitted to all members of the Safety Committee of the American Hotel
and Motel Association, Washington, DC, from a seminar requested by that organization
through it's legal council, Sullivan, Roche, and Johnson, San Francisco CA. Additional
research was performed by the same legal firm.