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Beyond Slips and Falls: Safeguarding Businesses from the Hidden Risks of Customer Interactions

Essential skills January 22, 2024

Organisations that deal extensively with the public are invariably going to experience an element of friction. It’s no secret that the costs of personal injury claims can be potentially ruinous for a business. The focus tends to be on personal injury actions, and retailers and those in the service industry are no stranger to the dreaded slip and fall and ensuing solicitors warning letter in the post.  

While personal injury claims tend to dominate attention, there are many other incidents involving customers and the public that can trouble an organisation. These might not always command the same amounts of compensation as a physical injury but nonetheless they can be a significant difficulty for businesses and cumulatively can be just as damaging as a slip and fall. Retailers are increasingly being subjected to allegations of defamation where they confront a customer over shoplifting and while these allegations are usually spurious in nature, they still need to be properly investigated and reported if they are to be defended.  

Other actions may involve accusation of false imprisonment, such as where it is claimed that security staff detained a customer while they were waiting on the Gardaí, or assault. Hotels, pubs, restaurants, clubs and shops may be accused of discrimination in refusing entry or service. The accusation mightn’t even directly involve the organisation itself but might concern a dispute between two customers while on the premises.  

So, it’s not just a fall or a sore back that might precipitate the solicitor’s letter. It could be the misunderstanding at the till, confrontation with door staff or one customer’s car tipping another in the car park. Regardless of the incident, it should be investigated and reported on in order to best protect the organisation and help defend itself against litigation. 

While La Touche Training’s Accident Investigations courses primarily deal with incidents giving rise to injuries, the core investigative and recording skills taught are just as relevant to misunderstandings and confrontations with the public.

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