It’s easy to assume that your low-labor storefront is safe from potential injury accidents, but that’s not the case. “Unfortunately, accidents often happen in the workplace,” according to an article from Hardison & Cochran, a North Carolina law office.
“In fact, 4,585 workers across the U.S. died on the job in 2013 — or 12 deaths each workday. One out of five deaths involved construction accidents. More than 917,000 workers suffered injuries that prevented them from working for some length of time.”
True, many accidents occur in large industrial manufacturing facilities, but owners of businesses of any size should be wary of the potential for workplace accidents. Not only can such an event be painful and costly for an employee or client, but it may also take a financial toll in terms of insurance, medical payouts, lost labor, and even a possible personal injury settlement.
No one should have to remind you that keeping your workplace safe and accident-free should be a top priority, but you might need a few pointers on how to stay that course.
- Write a List of General Policies
Giving employees a verbal reminder may not be sufficient to reinforce safe practices. Workplace safety policies should be typed up, presented formally, and hung in a conspicuous place so every employee and/or customer can readily see them.
In your general policies guidebook, you should include an action plan for what to do if an accident occurs. For example, if a child should ingest a toxic chemical that was spilled in your store, a list of numbers to call and general first aid should be posted. The same goes for manufacturing and warehouse safety rules.
- Keep Things Clean and Organized
“In many cases, precautionary practices can prevent accidents,” said attorney Marc Albert in a Business.com interview. Albert advises that cleanliness and organizational policies should be firmly in place.
Such policies, such as how to run computer cables without creating a tripping hazard or where to store the forklift at the end of the day, should be incorporated into your general policies handbook. You might also post general procedures on the wall where all parties can see them.
- Stay Up to Date on Maintenance
With regard to the use any kind of machinery or equipment in your workplace, whether heavy or light, proper and routine maintenance is vital. Over time, equipment will deteriorate and could become a hazard.
You can usually make repairs rather than having to replace your equipment, but you need to stay on top of it. Maintenance can be expensive, especially for a small firm that’s barely making ends meet.
When you think about the cost of rising workers compensation insurance — or worse, a personal injury settlement — then the cost of routine maintenance pales in comparison.
- Give Employees Proper Training
Surely your employees don’t wish to get hurt, and most have the best interest of the company in mind. But if they aren’t properly trained to handle complicated equipment and to avoid accidents, they might not be able to avoid a mishap.
It’s also worthwhile to offer them suitable equipment that goes with their training. This may range from safety gloves for cleaning toilets to a high-tech forklift for safer moves. If you give your workers the tools to succeed, more often than not, they will.
- No Shortcuts
Staying within the budget and maximizing your returns is an essential part of business, but it’s not more important than maintaining a safe environment. Major manufacturing corporations didn’t get where they are by cutting corners.
Accidents happen most frequently when a step has been skipped. Perhaps a worker forgot to put on goggles and got splashed in the face with a toxic chemical, or perhaps the company turned a broom closet into an office space, and the brooms became a tripping hazard in the hallway. It takes only one small misstep to lead to a huge, expensive accident.
- Hold Employees Accountable
You might do everything you can to keep a safe workplace, but if your employees don’t follow the rules, accidents can happen. Monitoring workplace safety and accountability should reduce employee mistakes and maintain a clean safety record.
You can also institute incentives. When an employee sets a good example of abiding by the standards, reward his or her efforts. You could also offer the entire firm a reward if everyone manages to reach a certain total of accident-free days.
- Have a Plan When Accidents Occur
Be sure you know how to handle accidents when they occur. Your general policies guidebook will give insight into proper first aid and which people to notify, but a lot goes into the administrative facet as well.
Make sure you understand the steps your insurance company expects in case of an accident. Get contact information for the person who was injured and follow up regularly.
Your actions after the event could mean the difference between facing a personal injury lawsuit versus moving on, free and clear.