This case involves a dangerous staircase at a large chain restaurant. At the time of the incident in question, a customer of the restaurant was attempting to descend the staircase with a tray of food. The staircase, which had recently been coated with polyurethane, was noted by restaurant employees as being very slippery. The staircase did not have any anti-slip strips. The customer slipped and fell down the stairs, suffering a broken arm as well as a torn rotator cuff and minor concussion.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your background as it relates to restaurant safety.
- 2. What is the normal protocol for dealing with wooden floors in a restaurant?
Expert Witness Response E-007804
I have over 30 years of experience as a certified food safety professional. I am an internationally recognized National Restaurant Association certified Instructor and Proctor as I currently teach sanitation and safety at the second largest community college in the US and have taught that course for over 10 years. I have previous restaurant safety expert witness experience and have been a Restaurant operations professional and opening team trainer for over 30 years. Wooden floors require special care. Stairs are different than floors. Stairs have an industry standard as to the size of the steps. Restaurant operators must take reasonable care to make sure stairs are safe for guests and staff. Lighting and adhesive strips are utilized, but there is no common industry standard here. The local jurisdiction may set certain requirements and would enforce (local health department) at the local level. Local, county and state laws may have criteria for wooden stairs.
Expert Witness Response E-088943
I have been an owner in 29 restaurants, assisted with the opening of over 100 restaurants, helped grow a company from 1 restaurant to over 200 restaurants, and completed over 150 restaurant inspections which all included safety sections. Normal protocol would be at a minimum to ensure all walkways are kept clean, lighted properly, dry, visible, and safe but there are quite a number of questions that need to be answered to evaluate the situation such as 1) does restaurant staff walk in the same area and possibly carry grease from the kitchen (on bottom of their shoes) to the area of the slip 2) do the steps have proper lighting 3) are steps on a cleaning checklist 4) are all steps visible 5) does high customer and employee traffic occurs on the steps 6) age and thickness of polyurethane 7) condition of steps along with other factors. My qualifications include 35 years of restaurant management, restaurant ownership and restaurant consulting for a variety of clients.