Is workplace safety at your startup a top priority? If it’s not, it should be. Recent estimates show that a worker is injured every seven seconds.
It’s essential that you put plans in place now to avoid people getting hurt in your business. In some cases, you’re legally obligated to have these plans in place.
How can you show that you’re serious about safety at your startup? Read on to learn how you can take the steps to create a safe workplace and keep your employees safe.
Why Safety Is Important
Startup businesses are in an interesting position because you need to do everything on a shoestring budget while you’re building up the business.
You buy second-hand desks, create a makeshift IT network, and do everything you can to minimize your costs.
That looks good at first, but you’re really creating potential hazards for your business that can cost you in the long run.
Workplace injuries can create low morale because your employees think that you don’t take their safety seriously. You don’t value them as employees and the contributions that they make.
You also want to protect your customers and clients from getting hurt while visiting your office. A simple slip and fall could cost the startup money that you can’t afford.
One other reason why it’s important to take safety seriously and make it a priority is your brand reputation. You are working hard to build a positive brand that
A startup that has a bad reputation is costly. You have to work harder to close sales and gain trust. It also costs about 10% more to hire someone.
When you have a safe workplace, you have higher employee morale, higher retention rates, and you avoid costly lawsuits and settlements. You also keep your insurance premiums low.
Understanding the Types of Risks
How can you keep people from getting hurt at your startup? You need to know what the types of risks are at your company.
These risks and hazards are commonly placed in four different categories.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, tension headaches, and other health issues can be related to ergonomic issues in your office.
Startups will use makeshift tables and chairs for office furniture. While these may be cheap to do, they don’t provide the most comfortable work environment for your employees.
An ergonomic set up aligns the eyes with a monitor. This prevents headaches and shoulder tension. The wrists, hips, and knees also need to be aligned to ensure proper body positioning.
Physical risks are other types of risks to the body. For example, people working on ladders or standing on a desk to replace a light bulb is a physical hazard.
The most common physical risks are slips and falls. That can be due to uneven flooring, the flooring material, or another type of risk like a stray wire or cable.
Chemical risks are those that deal with harmful chemicals. Chemicals can be found in any workplace environment. Cleaning supplies are chemically based and can cause skin irritation or worse.
Acids and petroleum products are other commonly found chemicals in the workplace. These can cause serious harm to employees if they’re mishandled.
If you’re working out of your home with an employee or two, you’re probably not at all concerned about biological risks. It’s the same as renting out a cheap space that doesn’t have a janitorial staff.
Biological risks aren’t just reserved for hospitals and healthcare facilities because they deal with blood and other bodily fluids.
What happens when an employee cuts themselves on the job? That’s a biological hazard. Same with someone getting sick in the office.
Safety and The Law
As an employer, you have legal obligations to meet to make sure your workers are safe. States and municipalities have different laws on the books that govern worker safety.
At the federal level, you’ll have to comply with OSHA and the Department of Labor’s standards for workplace safety. Some of these laws will depend on the industry you work in.
You’ll need to review these policies yourself or work with someone that understands employment law.
How to Avoid People Getting Hurt at Your Startup
As a startup owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your workplace safe. Here are the steps you need to take to keep people from getting hurt at your workplace.
The first thing that you want to do is to evaluate the potential risks. Entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature, so this may require a mindset.
You have to approach this from the standpoint of the worst-case scenario for every little thing. If there’s a random cable lying around, you have to assume that someone will trip over it. You also want to make sure that you have an ergonomic set up in your office.
Your employees can be valuable resources at this stage. They’re bound to.
That step will help you identify more risks and hazards that you may have overlooked in your evaluation.
Creating a Workplace Policy
One of the best ways to protect your customers and employees is to have a workplace safety policy. This will show your employees that you take their safety seriously. It can go a long way to boost morale and keep your employees longer.
It will also help your business in the event of any issues or complaints. If you can document that you have a policy and you trained employees, you may be able to lower your liabilities. These are some of the items that you want to include in your policy.
Workplace Safety Goals
The plan has to start off with the reason why you have a plan. What do you want to accomplish with it? It can be as simple as reducing the risk of injuries in the workplace.
Evaluation Results and Plan
The next part of your plan is where you put your findings into action. You want to document what you discovered in the evaluation and what you’re doing about them.
For example, if you discovered that workers are subjected to strains because of ergonomic hazards, you can remedy that by ordering better desks and chairs to support them.
This can increase the level of trust that your employees have in your company. Not only are you listening to employees, but you’re taking actions to correct safety issues.
Procedure to Report Hazards and Injuries
This is the most important section because you’re giving employees specific steps to report safety issues and what they need to do in case of an injury.
It’s also important because this could impact worker’s comp cases. You want to make sure that your employees report injuries right away. This could be to your or a designated person within your business.
Employees should be informed that they have rights when they’re hurt on the job. They can work with workers’ compensation doctors, be reimbursed for medical expenses under workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a tricky issue because you’re bringing in the insurance company to handle the claim. You want to make sure that your policy addresses the steps to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Insurance companies can deny these claims, even though they are legitimate claims. A good policy will help your employees get what they are entitled to.
Finally, you want to make sure your employees are trained. You may decide to have a few people trained not only in workplace safety but in administering CPR in emergency situations.
At the very least, your employees should be trained on the policy and the procedures to report injuries and safety risks.
How to Avoid People Getting Hurt At Your Startup
There are a lot of risks whenever you’re starting a business. Your job is to limit those risks as much as possible. You’re usually concerned with increasing competition, getting more sales, and making more money.
One of the biggest risks to your business is safety. Your clients and your employees expect a safe workplace environment.
You can take steps to avoid people getting hurt at your business. You have to learn what the risks are and identify them. You then need to create a solid policy that shows employees how to report risks and what to do if someone gets injured.
In the end, you’ll have a workplace culture that values people and their safety. It’s an important step to create a solid business.
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