Business owners and Facility Managers have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to following guidelines, laws, and policies. Owners and Managers are responsible for the upkeep of their facilities and to protect the health and safety of their workers and the general public. Failure to maintain a safe environment will put any businesses at risk for significant financial burdens and lawsuits. While you cannot prevent all accidents from occurring, there are some basic things that Business owners can and should do to reduce the possibility of litigation and large payouts to potential claimants:
• Learn your local OHS Guidelines
• Get Insurance Coverage
• Identify and sign potential hazards
• Use a “Risk Management” process
• Eliminate Risks
• Provide safety training and guides for staff
Learning your local laws and guidelines
There are local laws and regulations in place for businesses that must be complied with to prevent lawsuits or fines. To start, business owners should check to ensure that their building is in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines within your state. Such guidelines are set into place as a method for preventing or reducing workplace accidents for employees and could also help in securing your business facilities for customers and contractors as well.
Get Insurance Coverage
In the event that an accident does happen at your business facility, having insurance coverage can help to ease the financial burden. All state governments in Australia require that businesses obtain some form of liability insurance as well as workers compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and other expenses that are accrued by an employee or customer as a result of an accident. It is easy to obtain coverage and can save your business a lot of money in the long run.
Use a “Risk Management” process
The use of a “formal” risk management process will ensure that existing and potential risks are dealt with in a timely and effective way. Sitting down with staff or having them email you a list of any hazards they might see on a day to day basis is a great way to identify risks, not forgetting off site hazards as well where an employee might be working or need to visit in the normal course of the day.
Conduct a workplace inspection and look for hazards, such as uneven flooring, high pedestrian traffic areas, surfaces that can become contaminated with water or other liquids. Document, eliminate or neutralize the hazard and don’t forget to inspect outdoor areas as well.
Sign Dangerous Areas
For small business a precursor to implementing a formalized “risk management”process is a site inspection that identifies potential risk areas like places where there’s a leak, wet floor or uneven surfaces etc. and posting appropriate signage. For a small company we recommend an initial site survey be conducted by a certified independent inspector who will provide complete assessment of the safety in your workplace. An inspector will also provide you with the best recommendations on how to remove or reduce risk in your building. There are also a number of reputable companies in Australia that than assist in reducing slip fall risk in your environment as well as a meeting current building codes.
Provide Safety Training and Guides for Staff
As stated above, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your staff. Education and open lines of communication can most certainly make a difference in keeping them safe. Some things you might consider to better inform your staff is to provide them with safety training, scheduled fire drills, and providing them with guides such as a health and safety handbook. Having your staff sign off on obtained training and guides is also beneficial in the event that an accident occurs in the future. Repeating training as regulations change or even on an annual basis is also another way to ensure that your employees are up to date on safety in the workplace.
Defending your Business against a Claim
Once you have undertaken all reasonable steps (above) to reduce or eliminate risk in your environment you will definitely find yourself in a much stronger position to defend against litigation. It is critical however to maintain the “Risk Management” process to ensure ongoing compliance and to adopt a proactive approach to eliminating potential dangers.
Though these tips above are ideal for reducing workplace injuries, there is always a chance that someone will file a claim against your business, but by following and undertaking these tips you will now have most of the necessary formalized documentation to defend your business in a court of law, should the need arise.