One doesn’t necessarily think of a supermarket, food market or grocery store as being an especially dangerous place but historically, Supermarkets are hard to insure and pay hefty premiums for their coverage. But for employees and food shoppers, simple spills, slippery spots on the floor and other mishaps can lead to slips and falls, head injuries, lacerations from broken glass and industrial cleaning equipment, muscle strains, muscle pulls and even serious back injuries. Beyond physical injuries, the liabilities in the supermarket space don’t end there. When electrical power to the store is lost or refrigeration equipment fails, the store is at risk of losing thousands of dollars of refrigerated products and perishables that can quickly spoil.

The bottom line: supermarkets, grocery stores and other food service businesses need appropriate liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage to protect the employer’s business and livelihood.

Following are the top 5 Supermarket Insurance claims and what you can do to help prevent them:

1. Slips and Falls Due to Ice (General Liability)

General Liability Insurance is especially important in the food industry due to the frequency of slip and fall lawsuits. Cold, wet weather including snow, rain, sleet and your typical northeastern wintry mix can turn your supermarket parking lot and your store entry into a skating rink where the risks of someone falling are greatly increased.

Grocery stores are responsible for the regular maintenance of their premises to eliminate holes, cracks, and defects that could create a tripping hazard. To help prevent slips and falls due to ice, snow and other precipitation in your parking lot and any walkways, make sure to:

  • Repair in advance any damage to the parking or walking surfaces that could lead to someone tripping and falling, or twisting an ankle or knee. Winter weather freeze and thaw cycles will make these problems worse.
  • Plow and salt parking lot as often as possible to keep accumulation to a minimum.
  • Clear ice and snow as soon as possible.
  • Keep parking lot drains clear so melted ice doesn’t pool and freeze again.
  • Post warning signs or barriers when needed.
  • Make sure parking lot lighting is ample and working properly.

2. Lacerations from cleaning equipment (Workers’ Compensation Insurance)

Floor polishing machines and industrial vacuums are heavy pieces of cleaning equipment that can easily injure a worker. Lacerations from sharp metal edges and metal parts or muscle strains from working with the equipment are fairly common and can lead to workers’ compensation claims.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is a state-mandated insurance program which covers lost wages, medical treatment and death benefits resulting from an employee’s work related injuries, illness or loss of life. The best way to prevent these kinds of injuries is to make sure that your employees are properly trained and have adequate safety equipment. To help prevent lacerations, strains and sprains when operating industrial cleaning equipment, be sure to:

  • Check cleaning equipment to ensure that there are no sharp edges and that electrical cords are intact to prevent electrical shock.
  • Provide frequent training to employees about safety procedures
  • Require employees to wear proper safety equipment including gloves, proper footwear, and eye protection.
  • Keep customers away and cordon off areas where cleaning equipment is operating.
  • Make sure your business is in compliance with workers’ compensation regulations.

3. Slips and Falls from Wet Spots Inside the Store (General Liability)

Supermarkets and grocery stores are danger zones for shoppers, suppliers, vendors and employees to slipping and falling due to spills, fallen produce on the floor, product breakage and other slippery wet spots. It’s up to management to ensure these messes are promptly cleaned before a customer injures a knee, shreds an elbow or fractures a hip. In the event such an incident does occur, a General Liability Insurance policy that’s customized for your food business can protect your store against accidents and injuries on company and customer property. The following steps can help guard against slips and falls:

  • Use skid resistant mats in wet areas.
  • Keep floors by doorways dry in wet weather.
  • Remove any unnecessary objects such as palettes and carts from aisles and display areas when customers are present.
  • Clean and mop floors when customers are not present.
  • Clean up spills immediately. If a spill can’t be cleaned up right away, place “wet floor” warning signs for workers.
  • Keeps walkways and entry points free of debris, clutter and obstacles.
  • Consider installing non-slip floor mats or replacing worn flooring.

4. Spoilage from Power Outage (Property Insurance)

The increased intensity of storms and the aging power grid has led to more power failures in recent years, meaning the chances of your store losing perishable inventory during a power outage may be on the upswing. Hurricane Sandy was a wake up call to many supermarket owners on the important of a disaster recovery plan.

Spoilage Coverage protects perishable property and stock damaged by a change in temperature or humidity resulting from a power failure or equipment failure. This protection is not included in a business’s personal property/contents limit. It can also be extended to cover damages caused by contamination.

Other than being protected by spoilage coverage to cover your losses, when power goes out it’s helpful if you have efficient auxiliary (backup) power facilities. Your grocery store is likely to have some spoilage loss exposure even if you have a backup generator, that’s why it is important have insurance protection.

5. Back strains – unloading and stocking inventory (Workers’ Compensation)

Your employees are often required to lift heavy inventory or to bend, twist and reach in repetitive ways that can lead to back strains and injuries. Whether employees are unloading trucks, stocking shelves, working the customer checkout or lifting, pushing or pulling carts and dollies, it’s a good idea for management to make sure they know the proper way to stretch and warm up before they begin their shift. The following steps can help prevent workplace back strains:

  • Have prominently placed signage for proper lifting techniques
  • Implement stretching routines for employees before and during their shift
  • Ensure proper lifting equipment is in place for all employees

When your grocery store or supermarket purchases Workers’ Compensation Insurance, you are buying protection to cover medical services, temporary and permanent payments, death benefit as well as legal representation and insurance protection in the event of on-the-job injuries or illnesses.

Work with an experienced supermarket insurance agency who is proactive in managing your risk

Schaefer Enterprises has served the specialized insurance needs of the food industry for 15 years, so we know what really matters and how to protect your interests. We offer unique programs flexible enough to suit the needs of businesses of various sizes and circumstances. We have tailored food programs for exposures such as property, spoilage, business interruption, product liability, slips and falls and employee safety but most importantly, we educate and consult our food clients on how to minimize their risk exposure. Need help with your Supermarket insurance claims? Call us at 877.237.2481 to learn more about our supermarket insurance.