(STL.News) Workplace accidents are serious and frequently result in severe injuries – even death. As a business owner, you’d like to believe it couldn’t happen to you, but that isn’t always the case. Regardless of the stringent safety protocols, you have in place – never say never.
How these incidents occur and the seriousness of an injury varies widely. Often, multiple parties may be involved, including your vendors, customers, employees, or guests. So, what can you learn to prevent future occurrences after someone gets hurt at your workplace?
The Cost of Accidents in the Workplace
All it takes is one tragic accident to change someone’s life forever, so it’s important to take steps to never allow it to happen again. Not only because of the trauma caused to your team member but because of the financial liability your company might have to pay, including:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Workers’ compensation litigation;
- Personal injury claims (if negligence was a factor);
- Possible fines for OSHA violations;
- Legal defense costs;
- Updating your work environment to minimize the chance of reoccurrence.
If you have business liability insurance, the different coverages making up your plan cover much of the financial consequences. However, this list doesn’t account for collateral damage to your company’s reputation, decreased productivity because the injured worker is out on medical leave, and lowered morale.
Turning Workplace Accidents into Valuable Lessons
If an accident happens, it’s vital to treat this as an opportunity to assess and learn from the incident. It can help improve your company’s risk management strategies and further ensure the safety of everyone on site.
Below are some areas of concern you should revisit in the event someone gets injured on the job or while visiting your workplace.
Make Safety a Top Priority
After someone gets hurt in your facilities, ?step back and determine how focused your team is on safety. It’s easy to say this is true, but are the policies enforced? Are the processes followed consistently? Are safety procedures and protocols in writing? If not, you must coordinate with your team to make this a reality.
It’s also important from a general liability standard that your employees sign an acknowledgment that they have received a copy of and read this documentation. In addition, ensure your human resources department, safety team, and supervisors have this information readily available. Also, post it in easily accessible locations where appropriate.
Invest in a Comprehensive Business Insurance Policy
Two important lessons to be learned from accidents in the workplace are that most are preventable and can financially devastate your business. If you don’t currently have insurance for your company, you risk your entire livelihood every time someone gets hurt on the job.
Many insurers offer a larger business owner’s policy that includes several coverages:
- Property damage;
- Legal fees;
- Court & legal fees;
- Business income interruptions;
- Advertising mistakes;
- Inventory replacement.
Besides this plan, you should also have a workers’ compensation policy that protects your employees if they get hurt. Most states require this insurance for companies with more than one employee. Be sure to work with a professional to determine your risk accurately. That way, you can obtain adequate coverage.
At first glance, it can seem like a good idea to go with the cheapest workers’ compensation policy option, but this isn’t the case. The cost of workers’ compensation insurance that adequately protects you, your business, and your employees is priceless – and frequently pays for itself in the long run.
Frequency of Safety Training
Many small businesses mistake treating safety training as a one-and-done situation. But regular refresher courses that review safety protocols in your facilities are vital. It includes ensuring new, and long-time employees get refreshed on how to perform their work safely. Plus, they can review current company standards to keep their workplace safe.
By requiring your team to undergo training a few times a year, they are more likely to remain compliant and minimize accidents. You should schedule mandatory training after an accident occurs and whenever your safety protocols are changed.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Employees and visitors who go into potentially dangerous areas should always wear personal protective equipment (PPE). After an accident, it’s essential to review if those involved wore the proper gear ?and, if not, why. Also, offer additional training to explain your company’s different PPE options for your team.
You should also work with your safety team to determine if the current equipment is reliable and protects your staff effectively. If not, immediately begin the process of finding PPE that does.
Much like safety training, inspections should occur regularly throughout the year. This process should include maintenance and repair of machinery your employees use for their jobs. Regular assessment of what hazards are present and the dangers created is also important. Safety inspections can provide an added layer of risk management and reinforce your company’s standards and expectations.
If appropriate, require job candidates to provide specific safety-related certifications for the positions they are applying for. Again, it benefits your efforts to have a workforce that thoroughly understands the risks and hazards of their jobs. Plus, they will have the necessary safety training to avoid accidents.
Consider using pre-hire physical exams for positions requiring significant exertion. For example, workers who load and unload semi-truck trailers often handle heavy boxes and cargo in a cross-dock situation. These exams will ensure they can handle this demand.
Running a lean operation doesn’t mean operating an understaffed and/or overworked team. If your operations have one employee doing the work of three, this increases stress, fatigue, and distraction. These factors increase the risk of a workplace accident.
If you notice an uptick in work-related injuries during certain peak times during the year, plan to hire accordingly. The cost of extra staff is much more affordable than a costly injury claim.
Minimizing Workplace Accidents Starts with Your Leadership
Every business owner wants to provide their workers and guests with a safe environment when in the workplace. But accidents happen. To truly minimize the risk of injuries, continuous training and assessment of your operations are vital. Ask employees for feedback to better understand the conditions they are working under and find ways to make their duties safer.
Finally, carry business insurance with adequate coverage. It will provide financial protection when claims ?arise.