Most employers understand that employee liability is an important issue.
The unfortunate truth is that although most employers understand its importance, they don’t quite understand how to properly prevent accidents and problems from occurring with their staff in the offices or at their store fronts. That news is extremely unfortunate considering that employer defense costs can top out at $300,000 and it can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to resolve some cases.
Employee safety is best achieved by creating what is called a “safety culture.” The term “safety culture” was coined by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group in 1988 after an incident at Chernobyl.
Companies with a positive safety culture are the product of individual and group values that promote an organization’s safety management. These companies achieve their solid safety culture by sharing the idea that safety is important, and by taking steps to build employee/employer trust across the company.
Here are some of the most important steps you can take to create a safety culture that helps you prevent employee liability lawsuits as a business owner.
1. Stay Up on Training for Appropriate Workplace Behavior
Employees and management aren’t usually too excited to hear that another training is coming their way. However, ongoing training plays a crucial role in keeping everyone up to speed on how they can do their part in making the workplace a safe environment for everyone.
To help make your trainings more effective, try creating an interactive platform that your management can use to make sure each employee is engaged throughout the entire learning process. E-Learning software like Enspark and Articulate are great examples of interactive training methods you can use.
2. Ensure Workplace Inspections Are Taking Place Regularly
Whether you’re running a retail storefront or a warehouse, faulty equipment puts your employees at serious risk for injury. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that equipment inspections are taking place regularly. Depending on your industry, the definition of “equipment inspection” may vary from simple to complex.
No matter how simple your inspections may be, it’s important that they are taken seriously. Even something as small as a broken broom handle or a cracked stepping stool can create a serious liability risk for your business.
3. Replace Expired or Damaged Equipment Immediately
Following the importance of conducting your inspections comes replacing expired or damaged equipment in a timely manner. Some business owners try to save a little cash here and there by extending the life of equipment once it’s been irreparably damaged.
Next time you’re tempted to bust out the duct tape to fix a piece of equipment, consider the cost of replacement against the value you place on your employee’s safety. That should help you put things into perspective.
4. Make Sure Maintenance Is Conducted by a Trained Professional
DIY repairs are a common problem in salons and retail shops. Although it may seem like your employees can easily fix things like a broken light fixture or a drying machine, it’s important to remember that employees can be seriously hurt working on electrical items without proper training.
Hiring a trained handyman is actually pretty simple these days. You can use a site like Thumbtack to find local handymen in your area and compare their services by cost, response time, and customer satisfaction.
5. Stay Up to Date on Liability Paperwork
Liability paperwork includes things like incident reports and safety waivers. It’s important to speak with your legal team at least annually to ensure that your business is administering the proper liability paperwork to new and existing employees.
Discuss your options for waivers and be sure that each employee signs these upon expiration. Also be sure that your management team understands when and how they should be reporting incidents in your business.
Hopefully these tips will help you create a safety culture that protects the safety of your management team and employees. One additional important step that I assume/hope you have taken to protect yourself and your employees is to sign up for liability insurance.
If you haven’t yet, check out Business.com’s guide to finding the best insurance option for your business.