|Retailers and Golden Buckeyes work to create ‘fall-free zones’|
|Thursday, November 28, 2013 9:21 PM|
COLUMBUS — As shoppers get out and about this holiday shopping season, crowded, busy stores can create hazardous situations for all Ohioans, particularly for older adults who may be at an increased risk for falls and fall-related injuries. To safeguard customers and employees, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Golden Buckeye Program have joined the state’s new falls- prevention initiative, STEADY U Ohio, to provide education and resources to retailers to make their businesses “fall-free zones.”
“When staff or customers fall, it doesn’t just hurt the individual; it hurts the retailer’s reputation and their bottom line,” said Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates STEADY U and Golden Buckeye. “Most falls are preventable but it will take a community approach, every day and everywhere. We’re proud to have the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants as an ally in combating the epidemic of falls among our Golden Buckeyes.”
Falls are the number one cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among adults age 65 and older.
“We know that every retailer in Ohio wants to create a safe and pleasant environment for their customers and staff,” said Lora L. Miller, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “Our partnership with STEADY U Ohio will help us provide our members with information, tools and resources to safeguard every person who walks through their doors.”
For the holiday shopping season, the STEADY U Ohio website (steadyu.ohio.gov) features tips and resources for retailers. Advice includes:
— Create a falls-prevention policy and make sure your employees know and understand it.
— Identify issues with flooring, stairs, lighting and housekeeping that could cause accidents.
— Have staff regularly monitor aisles for items that have fallen off shelves and are blocking.
— Provide seating around your business, particularly in areas where customers may have to wait during busy times.
— When it’s snowy or icy, extend sales or offer shopping options for older customers.
— Empower staff to offer assistance to customers who appear to be having trouble getting around.
Similarly, STEADY U encourages shoppers and employees to keep their eyes open and notify staff about slipping and tripping hazards, including:
— Slippery floors, spills and loose rugs or mats;
— Unsafe sidewalks, ramps or stairs;
— Lighting that is too dim or too bright and causes glare;
— Items blocking aisles;
— Displays that block your view of other shoppers and obstacles; and
— Anybody who is behaving in an unsafe manner.
If you fall in a retail establishment, notify management right away so that they can document the incident and take steps to prevent future accidents.