Lawsuits are never expected. Imagine getting sued for an accident that didn’t even occur at your workplace. Or for damage caused by a falling tree limb. As absurd as these scenarios may seem, lawsuits like this succeed all the time. It is impossible to protect your business from absolutely any liability, but there are some precautions you can take.
There are many unforeseen accidents that entrepreneurs can be held liable for. Maintaining a safe workplace should be the top priority for any business owner. Here are four tips for improving workplace safety that you might not have considered:
Create a Safety Policy for Teleworkers
While teleworkers might not work on your premises, their safety is equally important. Formulate a set of guidelines for employees who will be working at home, and have newcomers sign it. If you need some inspiration for what your guidelines might entail, check out the federal government’s telework employee safety checklist.
It may seem absurd, but if an employee is injured while performing work duties, the employer may be held liable — even if the work is not being performed on the business’s premises. Employers should keep in touch with teleworkers regarding their workspace conditions, and ask if employees have any concerns.
When onboarding new employees, stress the importance of maintaining a safe environment. Establish clear boundaries for acceptable and unacceptable behavior while on the clock. For example: performing work-related tasks on a mobile device while driving should be absolutely prohibited. Restrictions keep employees and your business safe.
Consider Using a Metal Detector
In the wake of several high-profile terrorist attacks in the last several years, businesses across the world have sought new ways to bolster security. Obviously many banks and pawn shops have used metal detectors throughout the years, but even businesses like Universal Theme Park and Disneyland have started to use them. If a metal detector can prevent or deter just one violent act, it essentially pays for itself.
There are several reasons why it may be prudent to invest in metal detectors for your business. If your business often has a high density of customers, it is more likely to be targeted by those with malicious intent. Metal detectors can prevent visitors from bringing dangerous items into the premises.
In addition to keeping the bad out, metal detectors can keep the good in. There is evidence that metal detectors can deter employee theft. According to the Department of Commerce, six out of 10 inventory loss reports are due to employee theft. A metal detector discourages employees from being dishonest.
Watch out for That Tree
Some foliage can make your business more appealing to potential customers, but this tip isn’t about investing in shrubberies. While it can be easy to dismiss landscaping as a purely aesthetic concern, there are also pragmatic reasons for maintaining trees and bushes near your business: they can harm your employees and customers.
There are some simple ways to determine if a tree is damaged beyond repair. If the tree has a hollow trunk, is unusually lopsided, or has a growth of fungus at the base of the tree, it may be dying or dead. If you have any trees that are likely dead, removal is the best choice.
Unhealthy trees are susceptible to breakage and may even fall. While this may sound trivial, it can lead to serious injury to customers, employees, or property. In the US, approximately 35 people die every year from falling trees or tree limbs. They are also a potential fire hazard — and business owners can be found negligent in court for failing to meet fire safety standards.
Reduce Workplace Stress
This might seem unrelated to safety and liability, but stress can be a serious threat to workplace safety. When stressed, employees are more prone to confrontations, accidents, and even health-related problems. Failing to reduce stress — or, worse, mistreating your employees — can result in costly legal action.
Here are some tips to creating a pleasant work environment:
- Foster bonding between employees with team-building activities and regular staff meetings.
- Encourage regular breaks. Overachievers might skip breaks, but employees are actually more productive when they take at least a 20-minute break every six hours.
- Earnestly listen to employee complaints. Take clear action to resolve any issues. Employees are more at ease when they are reassured that their welfare important to you.
- Keep an open mind when it comes to allowing flexible work schedules. A telework policy can give workers a reprieve from the workplace. Be sure to institute a telework safety policy (see above!).
As the old idiom goes: it is better to be safe than sorry. When it comes to workplace safety, you can multiply this sentiment by a hundred. Entrepreneurs should constantly assess potential risks and seek ways to prevent future problems. Anticipating and preparing for accidents before they occur will protect your business.