Working it Out: Protecting Your Business From Workplace Accidents

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Working it Out: Protecting Your Business From Workplace Accidents

You have an idea for a new business: you work with bankers to get your financing in place, stock the inventory, put it on the shelves and open your doors to your customers. At Hackler Flynn, we know there is a lot on your mind, and probably somewhere down on your list is a concern about a workplace accident with one of your employees or customers.

But it needs to be on your mind from the beginning. If you are a new or seasoned business owner, it pays you to walk through some tips to keep your people safe, as well as your pocketbook. Did you know the average cost from a slip and fall is $22,800? Just slip and falls costs businesses an average of $6.7 billion a year.

Imagine opening your mailbox only to find a letter from an attorney who is alleging you are liable for a workplace accident, and they are demanding compensation. Maybe you weren’t on the scene when the alleged accident occurred, and you are now on the defensive. It can be a nightmare for your business. But the real lesson learned here is that you could have prevented the accident from happening it in the first place if you had followed some safety procedures.

OK, You Have My Attention

You’ve no doubt heard about the “slip and fall” accidents. They account for the vast majority of claims filed against businesses. Sometimes they occur from someone who falls off a ladder trying to restock, or grab an item for a customer. Perhaps someone is coming down the stairs and trips and falls, causing injury. While you cannot account for every potential accident that can occur, you can understand why they happen and work to fix potential pitfalls.

Most slip and falls come not from a ladder or stairs, but on the same level of flooring. The causes can be wet or oily surfaces, a spill, maybe a loose rug or mat, or a quick downpour or other weather hazard. Employees or customers can also “trip” when views are obstructed, the lighting is poor, the rugs are wrinkled, there is clutter in the way, or cables are uncovered and left across the walkway. Another issue is a shallow step: if a customer walks into a business and the flooring is the same, but the step is very shallow, it can trick a person into thinking it is all on one level and they can come tumbling down, sometimes causing lasting injury and a large payout from your company.

So What Do I Do? Prevention is Crucial

In the airline industry, it is required practice for the Captain or First Officer on a flight to do a “walkaround.” As you may have guessed, it is a time for a member of the crew to physically walk around the plane to look for any abnormalities and address any concerns before they push back from the gate. Likewise, it is smart for you to make it a habit to walk through your place of business in order to look for any potential hazards.

  • Do you have obstacles that could cause a customer or employee to fall?

  • Is there an uneven walkway on which someone could easily trip?

  • How about cracked or loose floor tiles?

  • Maybe someone has left a piece of equipment or inventory in the middle of the hallway, and someone could run into it and take a tumble.

  • A cracked floor can be a hazard.

  • Is the lighting too dim for workers to gather inventory safely?

  • Do you have flashlights readily available for employees to use in darker areas?

In other words, take a fresh look at your surroundings and invest in new mats or abrasive strips that can cause some friction and better footing. Make sure the rugs and carpets are secure, and see that the lighting is adequate for the job at hand, and replace any bulbs that need it. Make sure opened doors or cabinets are closed to ensure easy hallway access.

Communication is Key

It is imperative that each of your employees understand the need for safety, and that communication needs to come from you at the top. Be sure your employees are well-trained in the need to:

  • Clean up any spills immediately and have the equipment easily accessible.

  • Clearly mark any wet areas for customers and employees.

  • Sweep up all debris immediately.

  • Instruct employees to wear proper footing on duty to avoid slips and falls.

  • Ask employees to communicate with you right away if there is a safety risk.

  • Create an Employee Handbook that outlines safety procedures and discuss it with your employees.

  • Conduct routine evaluations of employees to make sure they are adhering to safety policies: if you are concerned about safety, they will be as well.

You want, and need to provide a safe environment for your employees and customers. Sometimes, accidents will occur, and at Hackler Flynn, we stand ready to defend you and your business. Please contact us if we can be of service to you!

DISCLAIMER: Content on the website should not be considered legal advice and is for information purposes only. Communications made through the website do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn and Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this website.

 

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Ms. Flynn believes her attorneys and staff should come from a wide range of legal backgrounds and experience. She provides a workplace that is team-oriented and works together to bring the best results to her clients.