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8 ways to prevent accidents in your store

Civil liability is something you need to address at your retail store. Civil liability in retail stores represents a medium to high level of risk, depending on how busy they are.

Find out more about the main on-site risks that can cause injuries leading to lawsuits or claims.



Your building must be easy to evacuate in emergencies for the safety of customers, visitors and staff.

  • Keep the exits well lit and make sure they are never blocked.
  • Emergency exit signs and doors should be installed and maintained. Obviously, these signs must stay lit if the power goes out. They’re usually powered by batteries or an emergency generator.
  • Make sure there are enough aisles and sufficient room around displays, and keep them free of any items that could prevent quick, safe evacuation from the store.
  • Equip the exit doors with approved panic bars and make sure they open in the direction of evacuation. Never lock or chain doors closed during business hours.
  • Install surveillance cameras or alarms to prevent unauthorized entry or exit.
  • For department stores and shopping centers, install a PA system to broadcast instructions during emergencies.
  • Post evacuation plans in strategic areas, to indicate the direction of emergency exits.

All interior areas must be adequately lit to reduce the risk of accidental falls or injury. In department stores, especially large ones, a backup generator is recommended to power some of the lighting during power failures.

Store floors and indoor staircases must be safe and in good condition to reduce the risk of accidental falls.


  • Make sure that floors are not worn, damaged, or cluttered (electric wires, decorations, etc.).
  • Apply anti-slip wax, especially on vinyl tiles, terrazzo, marble, or granite.
  • Clearly identify dangerous areas by using "slippery floor" signs.
  • Place absorbent rubber mats or rugs at strategic locations such as store entrances.


  • All interior staircases must meet regulations and be safe and well lit. If required, they must have sturdy, secure handrails that are in good condition.
  • Differences in floor level where there are only a few steps must be clearly, because the eye does not always pick up small variations.

Make sure that the type of furniture and the furniture layout don’t constitute a risk of injury (e.g., risk of running into or tripping over furniture). All furniture must be solid, stable and in good condition.


  • Fixed shelves and displays should be securely fastened to the wall or floor and never overloaded.
  • Goods must be easily accessible to customers.
  • Any temporary displays or stacks of goods at the store entrance, in the aisles or near the check-out shouldn’t interfere with customer movement or increase the risk of falls or injury.

Fitting rooms

  • Fitting rooms must be safe, clean and properly maintained. In addition, at least one fitting room should be accessible to customers with disabilities.

Doors and panels made of glass or other transparent materials must be easily visible at all times, regardless of the level of light. Avoid accidental injury by making sure customers and visitors can see them.

  • Consider using frosted glass or glass engraved with logos or horizontal stipes to increase visibility.

The manufacture, installation and maintenance of automatic doors must comply with standard CAN/ CGSB-69.26-96, Power-Operated Pedestrian Doors. There are specific risks associated with this type of door:

  • Accidental impact against the transparent glass panels discussed above.
  • The possibility of a person hitting a sliding panel if the sensor is improperly adjusted and the door opens too slowly. Contact can also be caused by a system malfunction, or if the person is too small, too slow or too fast.

The best way to prevent these accidents is to comply with applicable standards for these doors and have the system checked by a specialized firm twice a year.

Have the garbage taken out at least once a day to avoid excess accumulation. Exits must never be blocked so as to ensure safe, rapid evacuation in emergencies.

All public washrooms should be well situated, in good condition and properly maintained.

  • It’s very important to keep washrooms clean and tidy. Disinfect them daily to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Installing “slippery floor” signs is recommended when the floor is wet or recently washed.
  • All washrooms should be easily accessible to people with reduced mobility such as the elderly and the disabled.

Baskets and carts are usually kept near the entrance for easy access. This is the perfect place to display directions, precautions and warnings about their use.

It’s a good idea to help customers carry heavy, bulky items to their vehicles so they don’t injure themselves. Clearly display your policy at the check-out and at the store entrance and exit. This makes it harder for customers to claim negligence on the part of the retailer in the event of an accident.

Outdoor stairs

  • They must be stable, in good condition and equipped with handrails that meet regulations, if required.
  • They should be well lit from dusk to dawn and never crowded (waste, storage, etc.).
  • The steps should be sturdy, in good condition and have flat, non-slip surfaces for wet and dry weather.


  • Make sure balconies have securely fastened guardrails that are in good condition and that meet regulations.

Parking lots, sidewalks and other outdoor pedestrian walkways

  • Parking lots, sidewalks and other outdoor pedestrian walkways must be well lit, flat, in good condition and present no danger of falls or slips. External access to the store should provide safe access to customers with disabilities.

Snow and ice must be removed as quickly as possible from the parking lot and the store entrance, including stairs and balconies, if any.

Check out our other prevention fact sheets:

Installing automatic sprinkler systems

Automatic sprinklers are activated as soon as heat is produced and the first flames appear…

Cleanliness and safety of premises and activities

Reduce risks of injuries and the spread of disease in change rooms, showers and washrooms…

Want to learn more?

See our complete list of prevention fact sheets.

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The information in this fact sheet is of a general nature and is provided for information purposes only. It is not exhaustive. Any action taken after reading this fact sheet should be carried out safely and, if necessary, by an experienced and authorized person.

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