5 safety pitfalls putting your business at risk
Some jobs are harder than others, but one thing is certain, injury should never be considered “all in a day’s work.” That said, millions of Americans are hurt on the job each year. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2015; that’s three cases for every 100 equivalent full-time workers.
As if running a business isn’t risky enough, there are several workplace injuries that could leave your business in the red if the necessary actions aren’t put into place. If you’re not sure what could go wrong at your place of business, check out these common workplace injuries, and then make sure you’re protecting yourself and your employees from physical and financial pain.
1. Vehicle accidents
A company car might sound like a great perk for employees, but driving on the job can bring some risks for the employer. If an employee is driving on the job and gets into an accident, whether the fault is theirs or not, the employee may qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. Depending on the severity of the accident, an auto collision could have catastrophic effects on the employee’s ability to work and your business.
So, when does employer responsibility arise in a work-related vehicle accident?
According to AllLaw.com, employer negligence, negligent supervision, and vicarious liability are all possible reasons an employer might be held responsible for a work- related vehicle injury.
· Employer Negligence
Hiring an employee who will be driving on the job without checking their past driving history could be an example of employer negligence. Some employers need to take it a step further and confirm that the employee has a commercial driver’s license that is in good standing and has not been suspended for any reason.
· Negligent Supervision
Negligent supervision happens when employers do not have safety policies in place and fail to make sure employees comply with safety laws.
Scott Hullinger, Director, Loss Control and Risk Management Services for CopperPoint Insurance, says, “One way to maintain a safe work environment is to have a safety supervisor in place who is responsible for making sure employees are staying up to date on certifications and taking all precautionary safety measures.”
Hullinger has been in the safety and risk management industry for over 20 years and believes the importance of having a healthy safety culture in place can often come down to a company’s success or failure. “Companies that have a dedicated safety professional in place typically have fewer injuries, reduced insurance rates, better employee performance and retention, and better company morale.”
· Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability can apply to hold an employer accountable even if he wasn’t necessarily negligent in any way. One example would be if an employee who is sent to the store to pick up supplies and gets into an accident on the way; then the employer could be liable because the work was being done on behalf of the employer.
Everybody needs a sick day now and then, but sometimes an illness may be directly related to your line of work. Depending on your field, your job might cause an illness or exacerbate an existing condition. These illnesses could include back pain, occupational asthma, work-related hearing loss, stress, musculoskeletal disorders or illness caused from exposure to harmful chemicals or environmental toxins, like smoke or dust.
3. The ‘fatal four’
If you work in the construction industry, you’re more likely to experience an injury on the job. In fact, 21.4 percent of worker fatalities in private industry in 2015 occurred in the construction sector, according to OSHA. That’s because construction workers are at greater risk for the “fatal four” injuries: falls, object striking, electrocutions and being caught in-between equipment or objects. These four injury types account for nearly 65 percent of occupational deaths to construction workers. Of course, many more construction workers are injured — sometimes catastrophically — by the “fatal four” each year.
Hullinger suggests that having top management commitment and involvement as part of having a good safety culture can reduce injury. Many accidents that happen on job sites could be avoided with the right procedures in place. Employees that do not follow the rules and precautions not only put themselves at risk, but others as well. Employers must uphold proper consequences for employees who do not comply with certain safety precautions that put everyone at risk. He also notes, “Contractors that have a low history of injuries and claims, often get the job before other contractors that may have a higher frequency of injuries.” In short, lower injury rates often mean more job opportunities.
4. Repetitive motions
You can only swing an ax so many times before your shoulder makes you pay for it. Whether your job includes hard labor or computer skills, any repeat motions may eventually lead to injury. Carpel tunnel syndrome, which often is caused by the repeat motion of your hands, fingers and wrists as you type on a computer, is an example of a common repetitive motion injury.
Doing what you have to do to get the job done might sound like a noble quality, but overexerting yourself at work can lead to serious injury. Whether your occupation requires you to lift, pull, hold, carry, throw or push, overexerting yourself — once or repeatedly — can lead to serious (and costly) injury. Slowing down and taking it a little easier can protect yourself (and your business) from serious consequences.
Heat exhaustion is a big problem this time of year. As stated in a previous CopperPoint article, “As part of effective employee training programs, employers may want to educate workers on the signs of heat illness. Knowing the symptoms of heat stress may encourage workers and supervisors to take quick action to prevent various heat illnesses, especially the deadliest: heat stroke. Workers should be trained in heat-related illness prevention procedures and to contact emergency personnel in the event that a co-worker falls ill.”
Always remember to be careful on the job. Having a culture in place that promotes safety means more than just having a ‘good safety record.’ It can oftentimes mean lower insurance rates and a better performing team. Having good worker’s compensation coverage in place can help ease your worries and help your company stay protected if something unfortunate should happen.
About CopperPoint: Founded in 1925, CopperPoint Insurance Companies is Arizona’s premier provider of workers compensation insurance. For over 90 years, CopperPoint has been a trusted partner for Arizona companies to protect what matters most: their businesses and employees. As a leading advocate of workplace safety, CopperPoint is proactive in building a culture of safety throughout Arizona and in keeping the state’s workers compensation insurance rates affordable. In doing so, CopperPoint delivers peace of mind to more than 12,000 businesses and their employees.