Injuries on company premises or due to company products can lead to bad press and costly lawsuits. Most notably, a 1993 suit against GM resulted in a $4.9 billion award. Most small businesses can’t afford big settlements, so safe operations becomes a priority. Here are some ways to protect customers and staff.
Ensuring that OSHA and similar workplace safety guidelines are followed is not enough. Employees must be engaged and educated to the fact that safety is a primary concern for everyone. Engaged and motivated employees are more likely to exercise vigilance and report potential safety concerns such as malfunctioning vehicles and equipment, poor lighting, poorly stacked goods, traffic obstructions, and other issues which could endanger both personnel and facility visitors.
Be sure to develop standardized safety training programs for all new employees, and routine refresher courses for older employees so that everything stays fresh in their minds. Make sure that you enforce the guidelines in these programs to remain consistent in practicing what you preach. If you ever see employees violating safety standards, address the issue right then and there so that there is no ambiguity.
Always make safety the first priority. Rushing around to fill orders or complete projects will mean nothing if accidents are allowed to occur that are far more costly. Risks such as exposed wires, slippery spots, loose handrails, or improperly stored chemicals should be dealt with immediately. Anyone who fails to report or remedy such a situation is at fault if the next person gets hurt. Institute a system of punishment and reward when it comes to minimizing safety risks.
Appoint a Safety Officer
Task leaders and supervisors with safety responsibilities for various locations or departments, and promote a manager to be the focal point for addressing safety issues. If you have no one qualified, you should look into educational options such as online business safety courses. Full-time employees could take advantage of online occupational safety and health degree programs to learn as they go and develop information and skills to keep others safe across a range of business concerns.
Have High Product Standards
A product defect that threatens the safety of your consumers can be a death knell for a company’s reputation, not to mention you likely will need to recall thousands of your products and provide replacements and perhaps deal with pesky lawsuits. To avoid these unsavory scenarios, make sure you do plenty of product testing and regularly run quality assurance checks to ensure your products are leaving the factory in pristine condition.
Both every-day issues and worst-case scenarios should be planned for and regularly reviewed, and you should plan your risk management in line with ethical behavior. When there’s a fire, intruder threat, harmful fumes, or other danger factors, everyone on the premises, clients, and staff alike, should be immediately able to identify the locations of emergency exits, fire extinguishers, first aid stations, manual alarms, and so forth. All staff should be familiar with first responder numbers and evacuation routes, and able to step up and take charge to avoid panic.
Many companies may practice these ideas, but are they being faithfully followed? You should encourage an atmosphere that goes well beyond minimum safety and fire code compliance to firmly instill safety-conscious behavior in everyone.