As a business owner, ensuring your employees’ safety is of the utmost importance. Healthy employees beget a healthy company culture, which keeps your business running smoothly. Not to mention, you also have a legal responsibility to keep your team safe on the job.
To evaluate workplace safety, you can start by conducting a business risk assessment.
Before you can proactively protect your workers, you need to understand the risks they face at your workplace. A risk assessment can help you identify safety hazards and their potential consequences.
Every industry has specific risk mitigation requirements. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 sets requirements around basic safety protocols and calls for risk assessments in specific industries as part of its audit process.
That said, risk assessments go above and beyond legal compliance. They also help:
As we mentioned earlier, some risk assessments are required by law. It’s important to stay up to date on required risk assessments for your industry. Otherwise, you could face expensive fines, reputational damage, or forced business closure.
OSHA regulates these workplace risk assessments and requires all companies to implement basic safety protocols to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Some industries must meet additional requirements — the construction, maritime, and agricultural sectors are just a few examples.
You can reference OSHA's hazard identification assessment materials if you’re unclear on your legal responsibilities as a business owner. These materials can help you execute a satisfactory regulatory risk assessment and stay in compliance.
🎧 Listen to the Entrepre(doers) Podcast: Making Job Sites Safer with Behavioral Safety Awareness
A general risk assessment isn’t performed for regulatory purposes. Instead, it simply lets you review your company’s internal hazards. If you have a dedicated safety manager, they can lead this assessment. If not, you can hire a third-party risk professional to conduct it for you.
During a general risk assessment, you can review your workplace environment to see if it has any of OSHA’s unacceptable hazards, risks, or exposures. You can also set additional standards tailored to your operations.
On average, general risk assessments take around six months to complete. This gives your risk assessment team enough time to observe your operations thoroughly and collect sufficient data.
As its name suggests, a comprehensive risk assessment provides a more rigorous evaluation of your company. It often includes a cost analysis of all the risks identified in your various departments.
Since this type of risk assessment is so involved, it can be rather time-consuming and expensive. Luckily, not all companies need to use this type of assessment. Comprehensive risk assessments are typically reserved for businesses with uniquely complex or noteworthy hazards.
Experience modifiers (X-Mods) summarize a company’s workers’ compensation insurance claims history. They’re used by insurance providers to estimate a business’ risk and set its insurance premiums. By optimizing your X-Mod, you can set yourself up to enjoy lower insurance expenses and a better bottom line.
X-Mods are calculated by dividing your business’ actual losses (claims) by the expected losses for an average business in your industry. All companies start out with an X-Mod of 1.00. Incurring workers’ compensation claims can cause your X-Mod to increase, leading to costlier insurance premiums. The amount your premiums change will depend on the frequency and severity of your claims.
Since just one workers’ compensation claim can increase your insurance costs, you want to do everything in your power to avoid them. You can start by identifying the root cause of previous claims using the risk assessments discussed above. After that, you can seek out support to solve any ongoing safety issues.
Safety meetings are another tool you have at your disposal to ensure high safety standards at your company. They give you a chance to discuss pertinent safety concerns, protocols, and procedures with your workers.
Safety meetings should take place:
Safety meetings let you hear from workers who have first-hand experience navigating your company’s job sites. These workers may be aware of risks and hazards that your safety managers have yet to identify.
Regular safety meetings keep safety at the top of everyone’s minds. In turn, your workers may be less likely to cut corners on the job, resulting in fewer accidents. Proactively avoiding accidents can protect your business financially.
Workplace accidents can have a ripple effect on your entire company. They can decrease its profitability, productivity, and employee morale. By hosting regular safety meetings, you can show your employees that you care about their safety and keep morale high.
Many workers tune out meetings they deem irrelevant. You can engage your employees by planning your meeting’s agenda ahead of time. Make sure each agenda item is truly relevant to the attendees and leave enough time for questions at the end.
The time, date, and length of your safety meeting can also influence its success. It’s important to schedule these meetings at a time when all of your attendees will be available and alert.
It’s a good idea to practice what you want to say before the meeting. Doing so can help you communicate your message clearly and concisely. Outlines and meeting agendas can also help you stay on track as you speak to your team.
Make sure you ask your attendees to share their thoughts, questions, and concerns during the meeting. You can use their feedback to improve future meetings and maximize the use of everyone’s time.
While avoiding accidents is ideal, the next best thing is to have a detailed incident response plan in place in case one occurs. Incident response plans can help you contain the damage of a workplace incident by responding to it swiftly.
Here are the most important details to include in your incident response plan:
Modified duty programs can help your company recover from workplace accidents faster. These programs help employees come back to work as soon as possible by modifying their job responsibilities. For example, you can let an injured employee work a shorter shift or skip physically-taxing tasks until they’re fully recovered.
To find out how to implement an effective modified duty program, download our Modified Duty Resource Pack.