As a business owner, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees. When you fail to protect, it is more often than not you who ends up paying for them. So, when your employees are vulnerable, that also means that your business is vulnerable. Here, we’re going to look at how you spot those vulnerabilities, keep your employees protected, and save your business from the huge costs of having to pay for their healthcare and other legal fees.
Ensure you’re protected
First of all, you can’t start your business without ensuring that you have the right kinds of insurance. Not only does it put you at a major risk, it is also illegal. All businesses have to have liability insurance to cover accidents that happen on their property. If you have employees, then you have to extra insurance for them to cover workers compensation, too. Make sure that you are fully aware of the levels of insurance that will help you not only cover those legally mandated costs but any that might not legally be required but are still a sensible financial protection for the health of the business.
Know the risks
It’s a good idea to take the time to have a closer audit of the health and safety risks both inside and outside the business property. This depends on the kind of workplace you run, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you work in a factory or a construction site that you aren’t responsible. For instance, in the office, there are electric, fire, and tripping hazards. If you have any outdoor property like a car park, your employees could be at risk of slipping, car accidents, or a hit and run. In many cases, not only can the other drivers or parties be at fault, but you might be at fault if you don’t install the necessary security precautions.
Keep education ongoing
As an employer, it is your responsibility to mitigate danger as much as possible. But that doesn’t only mean buying the right safety equipment, it also means keeping your employees aware. The whole team can help contribute to a safer work environment. In fact, many companies have compulsory safety training and standards that employees are contractually obligated to follow. If the employee is injured in an accident but it’s because they didn’t follow the safety policy laid out by the company, you may be able to avoid being held accountable for it. But, of course, the primary role of ongoing safety training is to avoid those accidents in the first place.
Involve them in the dialogue
You can only be aware of so much. Not only are there the risks of accident in the workplace, but there are also long-term health problems that the work environment could contribute to. In an office, for instance, the risk of lower back pain or carpal tunnel from poorly optimized work desks is a very real and common factor. Make sure that your employees are able to speak up not only about accident risks but about the other health issues caused by the work environment. By giving them the go-ahead and a way of providing feedback, you could have some issues highlighted that you might otherwise miss. After all, being unaware of the risks isn’t a good defense if an employee is attempting legal action to hold you accountable for a health issue caused by work.
Make it someone’s role
If you work in an environment that is fraught with more risk, like the aforementioned factory, construction site, or warehouse, then you have to be even more vigilant. As well as taking into account all the advice mentioned above, you should consider promoting on your employees to the role of a safety officer or consider hiring one that’s already fully trained. This is an employee whose sole responsibility it is to carry out health and safety audits, engage other workers in ongoing education, point out individual safety failures, and much more. It can take a lot of the manual labor of keeping the workplace safe off your hands.
Make sure you have the right equipment ready
When it comes to tackling risk within the workplace, how you choose to tackle it matters. The first option should always be attempting to remove or mitigate the risk entirely. If you can’t, then you should instead look at using the right personal protection gear. What kind you use depends on the kind of risk you’re facing. In labor-intensive environments using heavy machinery, it may mean things like hard hats, safety gloves, and goggles. But don’t forget about the necessity of additions to the work environment such as safety signage and markers that can serve as a constant reminder of the surrounding risk and help guide employees to safer work practices. Just don’t make the common mistake of treating personal protection equipment and signage as the first and only step to making the workplace safer.
Keep the workplace clean
Though in some workplaces it might not be considered so closely linked to health and safety, there’s no doubt that regular housekeeping of the work environment makes it much safer. First of all, it removes much of the slip, trip, and fall risks present in every kind of work environment. But dust, grease, and other dirt that can build up over time can be just as much of a risk. Ensure that you use cleaning services regularly or make it part of your team’s primary role to clean the workplace regularly. Not only is it safer, but it’s likely to make them much more efficient. A clean workplace will even improve team morale.
A business that doesn’t look after the health and safety of its employees is going to be at major risk of running into expenses that can sink the whole enterprise. Besides the costs to the business, you should care for the wellbeing of your employees if you want them to care about their place in your business.