A safe working environment keeps businesses in business and moving forward.
Take construction as an example: any injury or potential safety problem slows down job progress. Beyond completing jobs on time, construction workplace safety procedures have saved lives and limbs. Failure to follow general safety tips in the workplace could put your profit margin at risk. Injuries, accidents, and resulting lawsuits can damage your business reputation. Even if you're "in the right," lawsuits take valuable time away from your business and reduce your productivity and earning potential.
Creating a safe environment is a solid way to invest your time. The old phrase "better safe than sorry" is true — you can save time and money by following workplace safety tips.
Workplace Safety Responsibilities as a Business Owner
You can't control everything your employees or customers do, but you can create a safe working environment.
Your first step is to provide education and training to your employees so they can work safely. Here are a few safety suggestions for the workplace that factories, warehouses, and other locations can follow:
- If your job requires safety equipment like goggles or lifting belts, make sure employees use them
- Enforce regular breaks: tiredness is a safety hazard
- Keep emergency exits clear and make sure they're clearly marked
Under Occupational Safety and Health laws, employers are responsible to "provide a safe workplace." Health and safety standards apply to all businesses and they go beyond displaying OSHA posters.
Specific workplaces have specific standards and regulations for safety — construction workplace safety, industrial workplace safety, and fitness business safety. Even people who work in low-traffic office environments should have safety rules at work. Review the standards that apply to your business and ensure your workplace complies.
You should also undertake these common-sense actions to provide a safe environment:
- Do a worksite or job site safety analysis
- Make sure your workplace or job site is free of serious hazards — including fire, chemical, or injury hazards
- Provide safe tools and equipment and keep the equipment maintained properly through regular inspections
- Develop or update safety policies and create a safety plan that your employees can understand and follow
- Hold regular safety training, inspect regularly, and hold emergency preparedness drills
What Could Happen If You Don't Maintain a Safe Workplace?
Your employees, customers, suppliers, and members of the public could be injured as a result of unsafe conditions at your business.
Your work could slow down or stop. An accident could close your business temporarily. If an injury or accident is serious, your business might need to close for weeks or months — even permanently. Even if you're not "at fault," your business could be sued. If an employee is hurt on the job, you can face a workers compensation claim.
Lawsuits and workers compensation claims can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to the National Safety Council, the total cost of workplace injuries in 2017 topped $161 billion.
Those are all dire consequences but the most common cost of workplace safety problems is time. No matter who is "at fault" or how injuries have occurred, you will spend more time on injury-related lawsuits or workers compensation claims than you ever thought possible.
If you have unsafe conditions in your workplace, you can be sued and receive fines and citations even if no one is injured. According to OSHA, every dollar you invest in safety saves $4 to $6 later.
Here's a recap of what consequences hinder businesses the most due to unsafe working conditions:
- Lost productivity on the job
- Work slowdowns and failure to meet deadlines
- Harm to business reputation
- Temporary or permanent business closure
- Lawsuit judgments and legal fees
- Workers compensation claims
What are Your Personal Responsibilities for Workplace Safety?
As a business owner, you're responsible for keeping up with industry safety practices and OSHA requirements for workplace safety. You also set the tone for your workplace. If owners are casual about workplace safety, chances are that their employees will follow their example.
With that in mind, here are some things you should do to set the pace for your team:
- Model safe behaviour for your employees—if you go out to a job site, wear appropriate safety gear and make sure employees see you obeying safety guidelines
- Hold regular safety meetings—take time to make them interesting and accessible
Invest appropriate money, time, and effort in creating a safe workplace, and your team will follow the rules accordingly.
What are Your Employees' Personal Safety Responsibilities?
Once they've received safety training, employees are responsible to follow the safety procedures they've learned.
Employees are responsible to use equipment safely and for its intended purpose. If they bring their own tools, the tools should meet your business and overall safety standards.
If you're in the construction business, make sure your employees and subcontractors are obeying safety rules for construction. Check their training and certifications carefully. Subs like electricians have special considerations, including construction electrical safety tips.
Employees in any workplace should follow general safety rules:
- Keep workspaces clean and free of hazards
- Be alert, awake, and prepared to work safely
- Avoid safety risks—alert you or supervisors of any problems as quickly as possible
Where Insurance Fits in Workplace Safety Programs
You've trained your employees and know that you have a safe workplace. However, accidents can still happen.
This is where general liability insurance comes in handy. If you're in the construction business, contractors insurance provides coverage for your industry. Subcontractors including electrical contractors can turn to electrician insurance. Because different industries have risks specific to the way they work, Next Insurance offers specialized policies tailored to each industry's needs.
If you and your employees follow safety rules at work, your insurance will cover legal costs and liability in the amounts specified in your policy. If you're sued for any safety issue, having qualified legal help that you don't have to pay for out of your operating capital is worth its weight in gold.
Get a quote for general liability insurance, contractors insurance, electrician insurance and many other industry-specific insurance policies online in seconds.