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Dangerous displays and falling products

| Jul 31, 2020 | Premises Liability |

Retail establishments spend a lot of time and energy on the presentation of products for better sales. They should also be assessing displays and shelves for dangers that could harm customers and employees. 

Safety experts identify these hazards as common causes of customer injuries in stores. 

Display hazards

According to the Great American Insurance Group, in-aisle displays with these characteristics may create tripping hazards: 

  • Displays less than 36 inches tall 
  • Protruding or unstable display bases 
  • Displays on uneven surfaces 
  • Merchandise or packing material on floors during display stocking 

Unsafe practices include moving skid-loaded merchandise into aisles and staging items on the floor before stocking shelves. Employers should provide employees with stable, four-wheeled carts to use when stocking. 

Merchandise hazards

The Toolbox explains that customers often sustain injuries when they reach for products. Retailers should not shelve products too high, too low or too deeply on the shelves for customers to access safely. For example, customers are at risk of a fall if they must climb up onto a lower shelf to reach a product at the back of a top shelf. If the product is at the back of a bottom shelf, a customer could strain muscles trying to reach and lift it. 

Product placement matters as well as the height and depth of the shelves. Those items that sell quickly should be at waist height. Heavy items should be on wider aisles. 

Employees should receive training on how to stock merchandise to prevent instability and falling products. They should not stack lighter merchandise below heavier loads, put different sized objects together or leave items hanging over the edge of a shelf. Stores should use physical restraints and safety devices such as ties, extenders and bars to secure items on upper shelves. 

If any faulty shelving or display methods do cause an injury, the retailer is liable for the damages.