If you run a manufacturing or construction business, you’re well aware that on-the-job safety is a top priority, and you’ve taken steps to ensure safety and comply with federal regulations.
For many other types of small business owners, though, office safety is one of those matters that gets attention once a year, or even less, and only when something dramatic happens. But no matter whether you’re a clothes retailer, local bakery, or marketing consultancy, accidents can and do happen. And if you’re prepared, you, your employees, your customers, and your business as a whole will be in a much better situation in the aftermath.
Here are tips on how to prepare for some of the most common workplace accidents.
Check your wiring carefully.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the 8th most common safety violation is electrical wiring methods, components and equipment in workplaces. These electrical regulations are in place for good reason — poor wiring accounts for about 22% of fires in the workplace. If your building is more than 25 years old, the internal wiring is likely to be outdated and more dangerous. And if you’re doing things like plugging countless laptops and handheld devices into single outlets, you’re far more likely to have a fire hazard on your hands.
Also check your floors and surroundings.
Those eight laptops plugged into one surge protector are all attached to chargers, which usually wind up on the floor. Wires, slippery surfaces, and other obstacles are all common precursors to the same thing: falls. If your employees fall in your store or office and sustain an injury, you’re liable for their medical expenses, which is why keeping a workers’ compensation insurance policy is so critical. If a customer or client falls and is injured, they may also have a valid legal claim against you. All stores that invite customers in are required by law to maintain “safe premises,” a term that tends to be battled out by lawyers once someone files a claim. Make sure you’re aware of the laws in your state — some states are much more favorable to injured plaintiffs than others.
Focus attention on transportation.
Whether you have trucks delivering your baked goods to a supermarket, or salespeople driving to see potential customers, the chances of one of your employees being in a workplace accident skyrockets when transportation is involved. Overall, transportation incidents accounted for 40% of all workplace deaths in 2014. You can’t control the roads, but you can maintain a great insurance policy, and make sure that you’re screening every person you hire to transport your goods. Look for experienced drivers with impeccable driving records. Also be sure to offer training to new drivers, or employees who will be driving regularly.
Be prepared for a larger emergency.
If you’re in an office high-rise, the chances are higher that you’re getting regular and thorough safety inspection on the elevators, electrical systems, and smoke detectors. Still, does the building have an evacuation plan? Does your team know what it entails? Is every one of your staff members aware that they shouldn’t step into an elevator if the fire alarm goes off? What about once the leave the building? Depending on where you’re located, it might make sense to have earthquake or hurricane kits, with water, flashlights, and other necessities.
Accidents are just that — by definition, they’re difficult to anticipate. But many can be prevented by some care and attention. And if you’re a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that if they do happen, you’re prepared.