Elderly Man Injured After Falling In Unsafe Restaurant Bathroom

Victoria Negron

Written by
— Updated on March 28, 2018

Restaurant Expert

This case involves an elderly man who was injured after slipping in the bathroom of a well-known chain restaurant. The bathroom floor had recently been mopped but had not been closed off to customers despite the floor still being wet. The restaurant staff did not put up any wet floor warning signs or slip-resistant matting. The man was on his way to the bathroom unaccompanied. Immediately upon entering the bathroom, the man slipped and fell sustaining several injuries, including a broken hip and a broken wrist. Because the hallway near the bathroom had no cameras, no one came to help the man for 7 minutes. An expert in restaurant management, with specific knowledge of restaurant bathroom safety policies, was sought to opine on whether or not the restaurant followed the proper protocols and procedures regarding bathroom safety.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your experience in restaurant management and safety, specifically in regards to bathrooms.
  • 2. What safety measures should be put in place to prevent incidents like this from occurring?
  • 3. What type of training should staff receive to make sure the floors are kept hazard-free?

Expert Witness Response E-197194

For 30+ years, I have held a wide variety of positions in many food and beverage operations including vice president, general manager, manager, chef, server, bartender, cook, and dishwasher. During my career, I have been responsible for customer and employee safety in many restaurants, hotels, and markets. I have provided advice to hundreds of clients regarding slip-and-fall hazards through my work as the owner of a restaurant consulting firm. Food and facility safety are expectations, not amenities, and bathroom safety, sanitation, and comfort are vital to a guest’s perception of a business. Our advice and counsel is always rooted in a commitment to guest safety. We also advise clients during facility construction to help their designers and architects engineer safe environments through materials choices, time and motion layout and guess pathways.

The bathroom can also be the scariest place in a restaurant because it is the only place where guests can occupy business space unchaperoned with no cameras or witnesses to help until another guest or employee enters the space. Clean, dry, sanitary spaces must be managed regularly and constantly during shoulder time and throughout each shift. The right chemicals must be used or floor can become slippery. Quick reaction to spills or overflows must be enforced through frequent inspection. If a bathroom is not at 100%, it must be closed until it is safe and clean again – which may require the manager to divert staff to swarm the situation so guests don’t suffer the wait. Prevention is the cure for slips and falls. One important and successful protocol involves dispatching a staff member with a small checklist to inspect and tidy a bathroom every 15 minutes, returning to the manager with their signed checklist. This protocol works to discover issues and correct them while alerting the manager if swarming attention is needed.

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