Running a business is a huge responsibility. As a small business owner, you juggle multiple roles, and your attention is pulled in many directions.
With so many daily distractions, you may be overlooking a critical aspect to your company’s success: Employee safety.
Keeping employees safe is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. When you promote a safe working environment, you’re better able to protect your employees from injuries and illness.
We’ll cover what you need to know about employee safety, including 5 steps you can take to improve it.
Let’s get started.
No one goes to work expecting to get injured on the job. It’s an unpredictable event that can wreak havoc on your employee’s life and your business.
While workplace accidents are unexpected, many are preventable. When you put safety at the forefront of your business, you can reduce risks and the likelihood of employee injuries.
Workplace safety encompasses many things: emergency procedures, safety training, first aid, and more. It’s important to tailor your safety efforts to your business's specific risks and hazards.
Keeping employees safe is essential to the health and success of your business. When you promote a healthy work environment, your employees know you care. It not only helps keep them safe — it keeps them engaged.
The bottom line: Employee safety is good for your employees and your business.
Employee safety is serious business, so it’s no surprise that employers must meet certain safety and health requirements.
Most every business owner with employees should be familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a large regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.
OSHA’s mission is to ensure that employees have a safe, healthful environment by setting and enforcing standards. They also provide training, outreach, education, and assistance.
It’s your role as a business owner to keep your employees safe and your business compliant with all applicable OSHA safety and health requirements.
All businesses must provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards and comply with the standards, rules, and regulations issued under the OSH Act of 1970. However, businesses with 10 or fewer employees may be partially exempt from some responsibilities.
OSHA regulations can be confusing, so it’s critical that you take time to understand the specific requirements of your business. Noncompliance will not only put your employees in potential danger, but it could result in costly penalties for you. If you need help understanding your responsibilities, consider speaking with an employment attorney or other professional who specializes in OSHA.
You may not view your small business as a hotbed for workplace accidents, but the truth is, injuries can occur in any business.
Many workplace injuries and illnesses are covered by workers compensation insurance.
If an employee is injured or gets sick on the job, a workers comp policy can help cover the cost of their medical bills and lost wages.
Here are 5 of the most common workers comp claims:
An office employee slips on a wet floor. A carpenter falls off a ladder. The severity of a slip-and-fall injury can range from a broken limb to severe head trauma, and it can happen in any type of workplace environment.
Sprains and strains are examples of overexertion. While these injuries are often the result of physical labor, it’s not always the case. Office employees who perform repetitive tasks or have awkward posture also may experience sprains and strains.
A nasty cut from a pair of scissors, a knife, or even a tape dispenser can send someone to the hospital. Tools or equipment with dull blades can increase the likelihood of an injury, so keeping these items in good condition is key to safety.
A heavy bin could fall off a shelf, injuring an employee. Or an employee may get hurt falling into a stationary object, such as a piece of machinery. These types of injuries can sometimes be severe, and they are often difficult to predict.
Open flames aren’t the only source of burn injuries. Harsh chemicals, electrical components, heated surfaces, and other sources found in workplace environments also can cause burns — which could be severe.
Many workplace accidents result from someone not following safety precautions. So it’s critical to establish safety measures and train employees. You can avoid some of the most common workers comp claims by identifying potential hazards and addressing them before they occur.
Don’t let limited time and resources prevent you from keeping employees safe. Consider hiring a risk management consultant to help you identify your workplace hazards and create a safety plan. You also can take advantage of OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program, which offers free advice to small business owners.
Establish a regular meeting devoted to safety rules and accident prevention. When it comes to employee safety, your workers should feel empowered. When you encourage employee input and involvement, they will be more likely to follow the rules and do their part.
A comprehensive safety program from Paychex or other training specialist can be an excellent resource for your employees. With proper training, your employees will recognize potential hazards before an incident occurs. Training also prepares your employees so they’ll know what to do if an accident takes place.
Your business is bound to evolve, so it’s important to monitor your operations for growing safety concerns. New employee responsibilities and changes to work environments may introduce new hazards and safety issues. Make sure to routinely assess your business and update your safety plan as needed.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you may experience workers compensation loss. Ask your insurance provider to list your workers comp claims and analyze them for trends. You may see common occurrences that indicate an overlooked safety issue.
Hopefully, your employees will never have a workplace injury or illness. But if they do, you don’t want to be without workers compensation insurance.
Workers comp insurance may cover medical care, lost wages, and other benefits if your employees get hurt or become sick on the job.
Say your employee cuts her finger on a paper shredder. A few bloody bandages later, she’s sitting in an emergency room with her hand over her head. Her finger is intact, but it requires stitches, and she’ll be out of work for a few days.
Without workers comp insurance, you could be financially responsible for her ER visit, medical bills, and lost wages. And those costs can add up.
Workers compensation can cover:
Workers compensation does not cover:
Workers compensation is just one part of a business insurance plan. Many small business owners also carry general liability insurance, which covers the costs associated with third-party accidents, property damage, and bodily injury.
The first step is finding an experienced, knowledgeable insurance provider.
At Simply Business, our licensed insurance agents will take the time to understand your specific needs, so you get the right coverage to protect your employees and your business.
The next step?
Give us a call at 855-930-2844.
We’ll connect you with a licensed insurance agent who can set you up with a workers compensation policy and answer your questions about business insurance.
It’s OK to be a risk-taker — except when it comes to employee safety.
Your company’s success is built on the strength of your employees, so you can’t afford to take a risk when it comes to keeping them safe. Protect them with a healthy workplace and workers comp insurance.
I've always loved to write and have been lucky enough to make a career out of it. After many years in the corporate advertising world, I'm now a freelance writer—running my own show and contributing to Simply Business. Fun fact: I have three desks in my house, but I still do my best thinking walking in the woods.
Susan writes on a number of topics such as workplace safety, customer sales, and workers' compensation insurance.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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