Let’s face it: workplace accidents happen. You may be accustomed to the ever-present threat if your business does a lot of dangerous manual work, like restocking supply, moving heavy objects, or working with sharp equipment. However, this isn’t the only context in which people may be injured.
Even if your business is in an office, workplace hazards abound. Employees may staple their finger by accident, or slice a thumb cutting a bagel, or even step on a loose nail that goes clean through their foot. If that should happen, the last thing you want is a negligence suit on your plate. Here’s how to respond if there is an accident at your workplace.
1- Take precautions before the accident even occurs
Like mom always said, it’s better to prepare for an accident ahead of time so that you aren’t confused about how best to deal with it should it happen unexpectedly. One of the most important things you can do to prevent against is to have a safe working environment.
Be sure that any spills are mopped up immediately, fix any electrical wiring that is exposed, pad corners of desks and tables, and keep bleach and other harsh chemicals in locked cupboards. Preventing accidents ahead of time is the easiest way to avoid dealing with them. However, they do still happen from time to time. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be sure that you offer worker’s compensation benefits to anyone that has been injured.
If you do not offer worker’s compensation for lost wages due to injury, you may end up facing a civil suit. You may want to further cover your bases by considering third party demand package solutions to best protect your assets. These can be especially helpful if you have a lot on the line, and you’ll want to make sure all your demand packages are thoroughly reviewed.
One thing you simply must do if an employee experiences an accident in your workplace is assess the situation to determine who’s fault the accident may have been. If the employee was acting recklessly or carelessly, you may not be as liable for their compensation, or even held responsible at all.
However, the rules determining this vary by state, so you should always stay well-informed on what the most recent developments in employee injury law are in the state where your business operates. If the accident is your fault due to poorly maintained facilities or requiring employees to engage in dangerous activities where injury can on occasion not be avoided, you will have to resort to whatever worker’s compensation solution you have in place.
The best thing you can do in this case is accept fault and pay out your worker their due. If you don’t, you afford them the opportunity to sue you for negligence, which could cost you much, much more money both in legal fees and in the eventual payout from the lawsuit if the worker should win. Plus, it’s not a good look for your business to have had negligence suits be settled in court, especially in today’s day and age of conscious consumerism.
Learn from past mistakes
Accidents are unavoidable in some cases, and especially in more dangerous industries. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t seek to minimize their frequency. If an accident does occur, be sure to collect detailed information on the circumstances that lead to the accident.
Knowing how it happened, who was involved, and how the worker was injured is both important for legal reasons and also for giving you insight into how to prevent such accidents from occurring again in the future.
Remember, as we said earlier, the best way to deal with workplace accidents is to not deal with them in the first place by having fewer. Collecting data on them when they do happen, and using that data to implement changes, is the most concrete step you can take toward minimizing future workplace accidents.
Accidents happen at work – if you cover your bases, fulfill your responsibilities as an employer, and learn from your and your workers’ mistakes, they don’t need to happen nearly as often.