[This article was written by Dawn Castell.]
Becoming a business owner requires taking on a lot of responsibility. This is true whether you are creating your own high tech start-up or simply taking over the family business. This includes responsibilities to the government, to investors, to business partners and to customers. However, perhaps the most important responsibility of them all is to provide your employees with a safe workplace.
Not doing so is simply too risky. While workers’ compensation insurance can help hedge some of the risk, you could also end up getting fined by OSHA or on the end of a massive lawsuit. It’s also the ethical and moral thing to do to protect your workers. With that in mind, below are some workplace safety tips you should take to heart.
Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries
We tend to think of workplace injuries as being sudden and dramatic events that require immediate medical attention. However, this perception can be deceptive. Repetitive motion injuries are some of the most common workplace injuries there are. These injuries develop slowly over time and are caused by the repetitive movement of different body parts. Carpal tunnel and tennis elbow are common examples. Employees’ work needs to be designed in a way so it is varied enough to prevent these kinds of injuries from developing.
Give Employees Proper Breaks
A lot of injuries occur due to fatigue. Without proper breaks, employees can become less attentive and more lackadaisical regarding workplace safety. Injuries become more likely as a result. Make sure your employees get enough breaks, including a proper lunch break, to ensure they are refreshed enough to do their jobs properly. You may also be breaking employment laws by not doing so as well.
Invest in Security
You may think of security in terms of protecting your company from theft. While this is true, security can also protect your employees from bodily harm as well. Many burglaries are done with the use of firearms and other weapons. Employees could be killed or injured. Violence in the workplace doesn’t always originate from the outside either. It’s sometimes also perpetrated by employees. Two million Americans are the victims of workplace violence every year. Make sure to make a good investment into security. A security guard and an outdoor security camera can go a long way.
Create Evacuation Plans
Under certain circumstances, a workplace needs to be evacuated. Many industries deal with deadly chemicals and harmful toxins. If these get released into the air, it can certainly lead to death if employees do not evacuate in time. Even if you don’t deal with any substance that is that dangerous, your workplace could still catch on fire. 8.3 percent of fires are nonresidential. Overall, you need to have an evacuation plan. This should include clearly marked evacuation routes. Employees must know what to do to evacuate the workplace in a quick, orderly and safe manner.
Remove Slip, Fall and Drop Hazards
Slip and fall injuries are some of the most common workplace injuries. You need to remove any hazard from your workplace that could result in a slip or fall. Any part of the workplace that is elevated should be surrounded by guard rails to prevent falls or trips. Spills of liquids should be mopped up and marked as hazards immediately. Floors should be clear of all debris at all times to prevent tripping hazards. Hazards created by objects dropping from above must also be dealt with. Any object above waist level on a shelf or platform should be properly secured to prevent it from tipping over and falling down on workers.
Workplace safety should be the number one priority of any business. While preventing financial losses may be important, the damage done to employees from a workplace injury can be permanent. Do everything you can to maintain a safe workplace. If you don’t, you will likely live to regret it immensely.