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Brand Talk: Tips to keep your business safe from slip, trip and fall exposures

Safety Tips by PLM

Despite what cartoons would have us believe, we all know it’s not just banana peels that lead to slips, trips and falls. In fact, slips, trips and falls are a very real and an all too common liability exposure for many businesses, including lumber dealers.

Falls were the third leading cause of accidental death in 2014, according to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts 2016. Falls led to 32,000 deaths in 2014. Further, litigation related to slips and falls has repeatedly been one of the strongest liability exposures for business owners across all industries.

From the entrance to the parking lot to the retail space to the lumber yard, the risks for an employee, vendor or customer to slip, trip or fall are plentiful. One of the best ways to combat this risk is to know where your exposures lie and to maintain those areas.

Consider the entrance. Many of our facilities consist of a parking lot, sidewalks and stairs. Parking lots could be riddled with potholes, sidewalks could be split and made uneven by cracking, stairs could have loose handrails or none at all, and ramps could become slippery due to weather like rain, snow or ice.

Inside the store, exposures lie as well. Slippery floors due to rainy weather or spills can be dangerous to employees or visitors. Uneven floors also present risks, as well as improperly stored materials.

So, what does a lumber dealer do to keep his or her facility safe and protect his or her business from costly litigation due to slip, trip or fall injuries? First, business owners must take “reasonable care” to provide a safe environment for their customers and workers. If a retailer were to be aware of a hazardous condition and leave it unattended, that business could be held liable in court for a potential accident.

At Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company, we provide our policyholders with guidelines to help them keep their facilities safe. We believe that with proper attention and maintenance, lumber dealers can keep their risk exposure low — protecting their employees, vendors and customers. However, a good safety initiative requires everyone to take part. All employees must be trained to report spills and clean up immediately, resolve tripping hazards, and whatever other potential hazardous exposures they may see. We recommend the following:

  • Appoint employees to conduct hourly safety inspections to check for spills, wet leaves, ice, or aisle obstructions and keep an activity log.
  • Apply safety tape to ramps and floor treads to stairs, paint floor markings, and identify uneven floors.
  • Use ample signage.
  • Make sure handrails are safely installed where needed.
  • Ensure merchandise is safely positioned away from the aisle.
  • Restrict access to areas unsafe for guests.

PLM understands the industry and its risks.

Over the past 120 years insuring this wood niche, PLM has developed extensive knowledge allowing us to help lumber dealers operate their businesses safely, productively, and profitably.

For more information, ask your insurance agent or broker about PLM, find a representative at PLM directly at, or call 1-800-752-1895.

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