Michelle Adams
Lawyer, Entrepreneur and Coach
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The Legal Seller Blog

The Legal Seller blog is a resource for Entrepreneurs & Professionals

Floor Mat Safety

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When is the last time you thought about your floor mats?  Most people don't really spend time thinking about their floor mats BUT it's a top subject matter of a premises liability lawsuit.  If you own a retail shop or restaurant then likely you also put out floor mats for your customers.  Floor mats serve to both protect your floors and your customers (from falling).  Small offices may care for their mats themselves while larger retail businesses may have a service that does so.  I've done both.  No matter how you decide to handle the care of your mats, here's some important information.

1.  If you decide to use mats, you must do so with care.  This means you cannot use mats that are in bad condition.  If a customer trips on a mat that is in normal condition with nothing wrong with it, you will not be liable for the accident in most jurisdictions.  However, if the customer trips on a mat that is torn or folded over, then it may be your responsibility.  Therefore, it is important to check your mats at the beginning and end of each day to ensure they are in good condition.  If you have a service that provides your mats, don't simply trust that the mat provided is adequate to keep your customer from falling and you out of a lawsuit.  On more than one occasion I've received a mat in poor condition from a service provider.  Don't use a defective mat.  Instead, it's better to use no mat in that instance.  Be sure to check the mats each time your service provider drops off.  

2.  In the Midwest we get a lot of snow and rain.  If you live in similar climate, it is important to ensure that your mats do not become so over-saturated during the day that it creates a hazard for your customers.  Assign an employee to check the floor and mats during the day and to wipe up extra moisture with a mop.  It's also a good idea to place a wet floor sign to indicate to the customer that the floor may be wet.  If you take extra precautions you will be able to adequately defend any suit that results from a fall in your business.

3.  Reasonable routine maintenance on your mats is important.  We have ours replaced weekly and that seems to be adequate for our business.  If your business has heavy traffic you may need to do it more than once weekly.  Use your traffic and weather as a guide.  

If you would like a full risk assessment for your business, just give us a call.