Safety Coaching Tips to Protect Your Startup

Just under three million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported by private industry employers in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compensation for nonfatal injuries costs employers $62 billion a year, amounting to over a billion dollars a week. Last December, employers paid $34.90 in compensation costs per hour worked on average, the BLS estimated. If you’re a startup, you can't afford the cost of an expensive injury compensation claim. Here are some safety coaching tips to help protect your startup from workplace injury and compensation costs.

Avoiding Falls

Falls are the most common type of workplace injury, with falls on the same level accounting for 16.4 percent of injuries and falls to a lower level accounting for 8.7 percent, for a total of 25.1 percent of all injuries. Teaching your staff how to avoid falls will go a long way toward preventing workplace injuries.

Most falls on the same level are caused by slips and trips. The best ways to prevent these are cleaning up spills and debris, making sure there are no loose rugs or mats or obstructions, making sure all flooring has consistent traction and providing adequate lighting. Wearing proper footwear, walking at a reduced pace, adjusting stride length to surface traction and turning wide at corners can help prevent slips. To prevent trips, use a flashlight in darker areas and make sure your view isn’t obstructed by anything you’re carrying.

To avoid falls from one level to another, use protective equipment such as body belts, harnesses and lanyards. Make sure any employees using these types of equipment have proper training and supervision.

Preventing Overexertion Injuries

Overexertion injuries involving outside sources from activities such as lifting and pulling objects are the second-most common type of workplace injury, accounting for 24.4 percent of workplace injuries in 2016. Other exertions and bodily reactions accounted for another 6.7 percent of injuries.

Many of these injuries can be prevented by following some best practices for exertion, as explained by Holmes Murphy & Associates loss control consultant R.W. Smith. For instance, when lifting objects, assess the weight of the load first, get a good grip, keep your back straight by looking up or forward, lift with your legs keeping the load close, stabilize the load and scan ahead. Avoid twisting or lifting loads that are too heavy. For heavy loads, get assistance. Training your workers in these types of best practices can help prevent exertion-related injuries.

Preventing Being Struck by Objects and Equipment

Being hit or struck by objects or vehicles accounts for 8.6 percent of workplace injuries. To avoid injuries from falling objects, wear hardhats and proper protective equipment. Stack and secure materials properly. Always inspect equipment such as crane and hoist wire ropes before using it, and never walk under this type of equipment or heavy machinery while it's in operation. Also, don’t clean clothing with compressed air.

To avoid being hit by vehicles, always verify where employees are standing in relation to vehicles, maintaining eye contact with a visual helper. Make sure employees near vehicles wear highly visible clothing. Wear seat belts, and don’t carry passengers unless vehicles have a designated passenger seat. Do not exceed vehicle lift or load capacity.

Avoiding Ergonomic Injuries and Other Workplace Hazards

Other common workplace injuries and hazards can also be prevented through preemptive action. For example, repetitive motions account for 2.9 percent of injuries. These types of injuries usually result from poor ergonomics, and can be prevented by following good ergonomic principles. Use good posture and set up workstations to avoid unnecessary strain on the neck, back or limbs. Vary posture periodically, and take frequent breaks to move and stretch.

Failing to establish a respiratory protection program for substances such as asbestos is the fourth most common type of OSHA violation and can lead to an expensive lawsuit; for further insight on asbestos exposure, consult a mesothelioma attorney. Avoid this risk by establishing regulated areas, controlling work practices, using administrative controls, providing protective equipment and conducting medical monitoring.

Business Insurance Protection for Startups

While prevention is the best medicine, you’re not fully protected from liability for workplace injuries and illnesses unless you have adequate insurance. According to the Small Business Administration, businesses with employees are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and, if your employees are located in certain states, disability insurance. Other types of insurance startups may wish to consider include comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance, directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance, cyber/media insurance, first-party property insurance and employment liability insurance. Check relevant state requirements and consult your insurance professional before selecting insurance.


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