Jerry Birnbach, F.I.S.P, Retail Store Safety Consultant ::::
Background: The plaintiff entered the grocery store in order to do her weekly food shopping. As the plaintiff proceeded down the aisle, around the corner’s end, she passed the 8-sided corrugated pallet display of watermelons. The plaintiff decided to leave her cart in place and walk back to the display. The plaintiff stated in her deposition that she called out to her friend to alert her of the melons. The plaintiff picked up a melon from the top of the cardboard bin and started back toward her cart. The plaintiff stated that her left foot hit the pallet, which caused her to fall onto the ground, injuring her leg.
The plaintiff stated that the bin blocked her vision of the pallet, and she was not aware of the corner condition that would cause her to fall. Working from the defense side, it was imperative that the retail store followed and documented the definition established for retailers to maintain a safe and hazard free shopping experience for their customers, invitees and staff.
Expert Review: The store policies, store procedures, and staff compliance to the regulations were evaluated. In reviewing the staff manuals, they were found to be comprehensive, informative, and required validation of understanding by the staff members. Review of the store found:
Aisle Width: Met ADA and local building codes
Flooring Material: Match recommended Retail Industry Standards
Lighting Level: Met the above average Lighting Industry Standards
Pallet: Use met Retail Industry Standards
Shopping Cart: Was not defective and met Industry Standards.
Expert Opinion: Employees were trained and versed on company protocol for aisle inspection. Employees’ inspections were logged and produced; as well as, found to be consistent over time. The display met all Industry Standard display requirements for dimension, product presentation and construction techniques. The display was properly notified by signage to observe and be aware of the pallet corner. Sight line chart showed that the customer had the display well in view and should have been aware of the compliant display.
Conclusion: The retailer provided a reasonable level of safety, and a hazard free shopping venue.
Jerry Birnbach, F.I.S.P, is a Retail Store Safety Consultant with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.