Restaurant Worker Slip-and-Falls in South Carolina

Spartanburg workers’ compensation lawyers note a slip-and-fall work injury case recently made it all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which vacated two earlier conflicting rulings on the standard for disability determination.
The case, Kentucky Fried Chicken of McAlester v. Snell, would have been fairly straightforward, but for that standard of review.

The case presents an opportunity to talk about a larger issue, which is workplace slip and fall hazards in restaurants.

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration reports falls cause 15 percent of all accidental, work-related deaths (second only to motor vehicle crashes). The specific risks vary depending on the type of work environment. For example, the fall risks on a construction site are going to be very different from those at a restaurant, but can pose equal dangers if not addressed.

In this case, court records indicate the complainant was seriously injured when he slipped and fell while carrying a tray of chicken that weighed approximately 40 to 50 pounds.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, challenged his workers’ compensation claim, and the case ended up in court. There, the court awarded temporary total disability and reasonable necessary medical treatment for injuries to his neck, finger and aggravation of pre-existing conditions to his lower back and one of his knees.

The Court of Civil Appeals sustained the award, citing the “any competent evidence” standard that had been established by a previous ruling in Westoak Industries, Inc. v. DeLeon. The court ruled the “against the clear weight of evidence standard” used by the appellate courts in other workers’ compensation cases indicated a separation of constitutional powers.

The state Supreme court granted certiorari to consider whether the appellate court’s finding was correct. The high court disagreed, and found that the “against the clear weight of evidence standard” was appropriate. The case was remanded for further consideration using this standard.

This case reveals some of the complexities that can arise in workers’ compensation law, even when the facts of a case may indicate that the process should be fairly straightforward. This is why we always recommend that injured workers first consult with an experienced attorney before filing a claim.

Claims regarding slip-and-falls at work are increasingly common, particularly in the restaurant industry, where there is the risk of exposure to greasy or otherwise slippery floors, unsecured cords and cluttered work spaces.

The National Safety Council instructs restaurants to address these potential hazards by doing the following:

  • Clean up all spills right away.
  • Keep staffers and patrons off freshly-mopped floors, and make sure signs are put up around designated areas.
  • Remove unnecessary rugs or use mats that are non-skid to avoid slipping.
  • Keep items that are frequently used in easily-reachable areas.
  • Make closed-toed, gripping shoes part of the uniform.
  • Keep drawers, cabinets and other storage closed at all times when not in use.
  • Remove tripping hazards, such as boxes, waste and other items out of hallways and stairwells.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors.
  • Have gutter downspouts adjusted away from walkways, entrances and exits.
  • Check the condition of walkways and steps every so often, and initiate repairs immediately.
  • Make sure staffers know never to stand on chairs, tables or any surface with wheels.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Kentucky Fried Chicken of McAlester v. Snell, April 29, 2014, Oklahoma Suprem Court

More Blog Entries
Remote Workers Face Additional Work-Injury Risks, April 23, 2014, Spartanburg Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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