Worker is Injured by Unsecured Shelving in Retail Store


Retail Safety ExpertThis case involves a woman who was injured while painting the walls of a retail store in Montana. Her company was hired as a sub-contractor to paint the store, which was undergoing extensive renovations. While the plaintiff was painting the store, several of the steel shelving units collapsed on her. It is alleged that when these shelves were moved by the retail store employees or other contractors, they were never inspected to ensure adequate safety measures were taken to secure them, such as the application of lock in mechanisms. As a result, the shelves were not properly fastened to the floor, and when they collapsed on the painter they caused significant injury.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. As a retail store manager / safety manager, is there an obligation to ensure the safety of contractors who are working adjacent to large, steel shelving units?
  • 2. Furthermore, if you are aware that the shelving units have been moved, is there an obligation to ensure that they are properly fastened and secured prior to allowing someone to work in the proximity of the shelving units?
  • 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a claim similar to the one described above?
  • 4. Have any of the stores you have worked in ever been sued due to an injury sustained by a customer, employee or vendor, in a similar fashion, involving a collapsing steel shelving unit?

Expert Witness Response E-008923

It appears that the liability lies with the retail store here, when it comes to ensuring that the large shelving units are safe to be moved (especially if they were moved by employees). Any modification of these shelving units is the responsibility of the store, not the hired third party, if not previously agreed upon. I have served as an expert and have extensive first-hand experience on retail/big box safety and material handling cases. I recently served on a case with a collapsed display in a big box store. I have reviewed hundreds of big box retail locations and warehouses for safety and materials handling purposes. I have never been liable for a collapsed steel shelving unit. It seems that this is a good case and I would be happy to review.

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