Workplace Injuries: A Guide for Small Business Leaders
Workplace safety is crucial for businesses that not only want to attract the best employees but also want to protect their employees from workplace injuries. An unsafe working environment can lead to several issues including higher worker compensation costs, loss of productivity due to injuries, increased overtime expenditure, and many more. No matter the type of business you run or own, it is important to understand workplace injuries, and so we are going to discuss them below.
Types of Workspace Injuries
There are several types of workplace injuries and the most common causes of these injuries are overexertion, slips, falls from height and bodily reaction. Overexertion injuries happen in cases of excessive lifting, carrying, throwing, pushing or pulling. The heavier the item is handled, the higher the chance of injuries stemming from overexertion.
Falling is quite common, especially in the construction industry. However, falls can happen in any industry where an employee is expected to work at a height. This can include everything from window cleaning businesses to warehousing and storage businesses.
Injuries caused by bodily reactions include those that stem from climbing, slipping or tripping. These injuries happen because the body reacts in different ways to different activities.
We also have injuries that are caused by machinery and equipment. These can range from angle grinders and packaging machinery to forklifts.
Lastly, we have injuries that stem from repetition. The most common of these is carpal tunnel syndrome which affects the wrists. Back injuries and muscle strains can also be caused by repetition.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
The severity of the injury can vary from one employee to another and depending on the specific circumstances of the injury. The good news is that workplace injury are preventable. One of the best ways to ensure safety is through training. Training helps employees identify hazards in the workplace so they can deal with them and learn how to handle machinery properly. It also helps employees know how to provide first aid so they can stop an injury from getting worse before the person is taken to a hospital.
Second, the work environment should be checked for hazards and kept neat and clean. This can help prevent things like slips and trips. Employees should also be equipped with the right safety gear. This is especially important for workers who work at a height but is also critical for any worker using equipment or handling materials that are deemed dangerous.
Lastly, managers should ensure proper scheduling. This will prevent workers from overexertion and exhaustion, both leading causes of injuries They should also know when to say no to an overworked employee who wants to take on more shifts.
Protecting Your Business
For small businesses, the cost of treatment, lost wages and other costs related to an injury of any one of their employees is their responsibility. To help protect the business from the costs associated with workplace injuries, all small businesses should buy workers comp insurance. The insurance will cover all medical care that an injured employee receives as well as some or all of the income lost as they recover or even when they are unable to come back to work.
Some employees might also decide to file civil lawsuits which intend to make the employer directly responsible for the injuries received. Workers comp insurance can help protect the business from financial ruin in these cases, especially when the settlement is huge and is out of the bounds that the business can handle.
Do the Lawyers Have to Get Involved?
In many states, an employee cannot sue if they decide to take workers’ compensation, whether through the company or the company’s insurance. This means that generally, there is no need to get a lawyer involved. However, it is well within a worker’s right to sue for compensation. This is often the case where the employee becomes permanently disabled and is unable to return to work. In these cases, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to chart the way forward. The lawyer can also help with any negotiations that need to be made if the employee decides they would like an out-of-court settlement.
Although workplace injuries still happen, they have fallen drastically as more businesses realize the importance of safety. Regardless, small business owners need to learn about workplace safety so they can learn how to prevent injuries and protect both themselves and their employees.