21 Sep Start-up business guideline: 11 tips to avoid workplace injuries
OVERVIEW: HOW TO PREVENT PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS AT WORK
A work personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises when one or more employees suffers harm from an accident or injury at work, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm. As a small business owner, you have to be extra cautious of preventing personal injury claims.
As a business owner, you should actively prevent these kinds of claims as a business owner is more than maintaining a safe workplace for your employers, employees, and consumers.
If your place of business is considered to be the “person” responsible for the damage, your insurance company will pay money to the injured person for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other ongoing medical expenses. [Source: FindLaw]
Between the medical bills, the lost productivity, all the workers’ compensation paperwork, and the low morale, the costs of a single workplace accident are high and can leave a big, negative impact on your business. But there are meausres you could take to prevent a workplace accident.
ELEMENTS OF NEGLIGENCE IN A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Personal injuries may arise due to defective products, motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, professional malpractice, and many other incidences.
We handled a case where someone was injured using a defective product that resulted in a spinal injury. The major motorcycle company at fault had to pay $2.5 million injuries, and their reputation likely was up to question.
The main elements of negligence that someone would need to prove in a personal injury claim against a business are:
- That the party at fault owed a duty of care
- That the accused failed to meet their duty of care towards the individual
- That the direct cause of the individual’s losses or injuries was because of the actions of the party at fault
- That damages resulted from the at-fault party’s actions
Related reading(s): Understanding the Difference Between Personal Injury & Bodily Injury
In most of these cases of personal injury law, the accidents are not intentional but result from the careless or negligent actions of the defendant. But the results of these accidents remain the same — injury and, likely, compensation to the injured person.
HOW TO AVOID/PREVENT A WORKPLACE INJURY
Accidents in the workplace are erratic and unpredictable. Therefore, it is wise to pre-empt the potential safety risks and implement measures to avoid dealing with the aftermath of an injury episode.
Follow these 10 tips to prevent an injury and protect your workforce:
1. Incorporate a safety and wellness plan.
The foundation for a safe work environment is an effective accident prevention and wellness program. The program needs to cover all levels of employee safety and health with the encouragement to report hazardous practices or behavior. According to OSHA, educating employees about accident and emergency response and other safety measures can reduce workplace injuries and disabilities by as much as 60 percent.
2. Conduct pre-placement physicals.
Some accidents are caused by inexperience and the inability to physically perform the position. Screening applicants is a safeguard for placement with the appropriate positions matching their physical capabilities. Conduct pre-employment tests to screen the most efficient, skilled, and qualified individuals for the job. Train your workforce to follow safety practices and identify, report, and effectively manage site-specific hazards to encourage making safe choices.
3. Educate employees and management staff.
Train employees about the importance of following safety measures as often as possible. Supplemental training in body mechanics can reduce strain injuries and keep employees safe during lifting and moving.
4. Schedule routine safety and evacuation drills.
Prepare employees for dealing with natural calamities like tornadoes, earthquakes and fire. It is critical to reinforce the safety measures at all employee meetings and training sessions.
5. Research safety vulnerabilities.
Every business is unique and doesn’t necessarily have the same safety concerns. Pay extra attention to common accidents and develop strategies to keep these setbacks from happening. This means analyzing your workplace for safety hazards and taking effective steps to eliminate or control them. EX: if you operate in the heavy machinery, construction or hazardous chemicals domain, make sure your workforce is using the proper safety equipment and protective gear.
6. Provide protection equipment.
Personal protection equipment is essential and should be enforced at hiring, meetings, and with spontaneous monitoring. Take time to teach employees how to properly use goggles, face protection, gloves, hard hats, safety shoes, and earplugs or ear muffs.
7. Have adequate staffing levels.
More often than not, overtime hours are implemented because of low staffing levels. While it could be tempting to encourage overtime working, overworked employees suffer from mental and physical exhaustion, increasing the chances of workplace accidents and injuries. Make sure you have adequate staff to improve the productivity and maintain a safe work environment for all. Hiring part-time or seasonal staff could help prevent accidents due to exhaustion.
8. Don’t take shortcuts.
Accidents happen when employees skip steps to complete a job. Make sure all instructions are clear and organized to prevent undue mishaps in the workplace.
9. Inspect and maintain all company vehicles.
According to OSHA findings, workplace-driving accidents cost employers an average of $60 billion dollars a year. Maintenance should include monthly inspections and repairing vehicles as soon as possible. Make sure all vehicles used for business purposes are thoroughly inspected, repaired and maintained on a regular basis to avoid any accidents in transit.
10. Monitor safety measures.
After initial training, reinforce safety measures at every opportunity, i.e. staff meetings, supervision, and education. Reward employees who abide by setting standards or staying injury free for a specified amount of time.
11. Keep an orderly workplace.
A business owner is responsible for the maintenance of the office premises and equipment. Poor housekeeping can cause serious health and safety hazards. Clutter is a potential safety hazard. Keep high-traffic areas like aisles and stairways free of boxes and waste paper to minimize the possibilities of accidents and falls. The layout of the workplace should have adequate foot path markings, be free of debris, and have stations for cleaning up spills.
Hire a building inspector to identify and fix structural issues like loose railings and broken staircases that may lead to accidents. Schedule regular repairs and maintenance to keep your commercial property safe for employees, visitors and customers and protect your business from personal injury claims.
In an office environment, make sure the housekeeping staff keeps the aisle free of debris and spills, reducing the risk of falls. Moreover, follow the ergonomic workplace standards that promote employee productivity, safety and well-being.
WHEN ACCIDENTS OCCUR AT THE WORKPLACE
You want to encourage a culture of safety by stressing the importance of complying with safety standards. This could reduce the risk of workplace accidents and protect your business from personal injury claims. However, here are 2 things you could do prior to a workplace injury occurring:
1. Invest in liability insurance to alleviate the financial burden of these lawsuits and maximize security for your business.
When faced with personal injury claims of negligence, property damage, libel, slander and advertising injury, you can rely on general liability insurance to protect your business against such claims and cover your legal fees and medical and miscellaneous expenses. This will also protect your company’s building and physical assets against fire, theft and accidental damage.
2. Know how to handle the situation when an accident occurs in your business premise, injuring one or more employees.
First things first, seek emergency help for the people involved in the accident.
Secondly, get in touch with your attorney, who can help you manage this situation in a professional manner.
Investigate the sequence of events that led to the mishap and record it in the form of pictures and videos. Ask the employees who witnessed the incident to give you a recorded statement about the accident and remember to note their names and contact details.