While the holiday shopping season may be over, many stores continue to stock their shelves for customers looking to take advantage of major sales. Big box and warehouse megastores even keep inventory on the sales floor for shoppers to take on the spot. While easy access to merchandise may be appealing to consumers, it can be dangerous as well. Every year, thousands of individuals are injured, sometimes seriously, by falling merchandise in these stores.
What potential hazards are you walking into shopping in a megastore? Since warehouse stores combine their retail facility with their storage facility, the public must walk through aisles where products are stocked on shelves as high as 15-20 feet off the ground. Trying to get items down is one cause of the problem since they are only reachable by ladder or electronic lift. It is very easy for something to slip out of an employee or customer’s hands, falling on an unsuspecting person below. The most common injuries are to the head, neck, shoulders and back.
Some patrons have had objects fall on them from an adjacent aisle when it is accidentally pushed through from the other side. One of the most common reasons for falls is when the merchandise is not properly stacked on the shelf. Be on the lookout for large or heavy items stacked on top of smaller or lighter ones and products that do not fit properly on the shelf, therefore sticking out over the edge. Also, items stacked on the floor can easily cause a person to trip and fall.
Shoppers should ask for assistance when contemplating reaching for something on a high shelf. Employees should take necessary precautions and clear the area when taking down an item. Regrettably, most retailers do not display warnings for falling merchandise. Safety experts say injuries could be avoided by installing railings or netting to better keep the stock in place. Unfortunately there are no laws currently in place requiring retailers to implement any safety measures.
Regardless of the lack of specific laws, it is still the responsibility of a store owner to ensure the safety of customers and employees. As a result, owners may still be held liable for injuries that occur due to their recklessness. Hundreds of people can be in a megastore at any given time, especially during the busy holiday season. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury from falling merchandise or a trip and fall accident in a warehouse store or megastore, contact an experienced attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C., to hold these store owners responsible for your pain and suffering.