The Lawsuit Every Manager Wants to Avoid in the Workplace
Employee safety is one of the most overlooked risks involved with business today. Managers, owners, and shareholders alike are looking for the best bottom line possible – sometimes resulting in harmful workplace safety and hazardous conditions. When people in management positions put money above safety and employee well-being, not only is it detrimental to long-term growth but they set themselves up for a possible lawsuit. So what is risk management and how can you ensure that your workplace is following the proper procedures? This article will explain just that.
Risk Management in the Workplace
Risk management, by applicable definition, is defined as the action of identifying and prioritizing risks based on probability and severity of consequence. Many years back, when airline companies started squeezing operational costs, risk assessment professionals within these companies would actually quantitatively express the possibility of a malfunction in equipment to the cost of fixing that specific malfunction. Like many insurance companies currently do to evaluate new customer’s risk, airline companies were actually assessing the possibility of fatalities in a crash to the cost of fixing the known problem within the system. Not the best way to excite new customers into flying your airline, but I guess that’s the cost of doing business.
Similarly, risk management is assessed in the workplace as a cause and effect situation – where are the high risk problem areas in safety and what are the costs of fixing those problems? If the costs are too high, many analysts will forego changing the problem areas or procedures.
But the truth is that most company owners don’t realize the cost of employee accidents. Worker’s compensation, loss of production, higher insurance premiums, administrative costs, and long-term lawsuits are all possible costs of an injured employee. If you’re a business owner or risk department analyst then you’re goal should be reducing possible cases of on-the-job accidents.
The Process of Eliminating Risk in the Workplace
First and foremost, in order to solve a problem you must be open to the understanding that there is one within your operations. Spend time assessing your company’s workplace conditions during operational hours and identify problem areas which could result in employee injuries. Observing closely, obtain a blueprint of the problem areas and rank them based on importance and possibility of occurrence.
For example, if there is a high injury risk area within your manufacturing plant that 90% of employees cross on a daily basis than you may want to fix that area prior to examining an isolated workstation.
Some of the most common types of workplace injuries include falling objects, slip and fall, equipment malfunction, improper training, and safety protection gear.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets a uniform threshold height for fall protection equipment of 6 feet for employees climbing or standing above the ground. If you’re employees are climbing on crates and equipment, or working on a roof, you must purchase fall protection and follow necessary procedures to ensure safety. OSHA fines for non-compliance can result in excess of $200,000.
Once you have assessed your workplace safety and prioritized the risks, you’ll want to associate a financial number to the probability and severity of the issue. If the problem area is potentially fatal, you’ll need to factor in legal liabilities and costs associated with potential loss. More so, you want to ensure the safety of your employees and target severity over short-term costs because fatalities in the workplace will almost always result in heavy fines, loss of employee trust, and possibly bankruptcy.
If the situation is minor you may be able to fix the problem in-house, but hiring a third-party to fix the workplace safety issue may also be a great investment. Not only does this show that you were diligent on fixing the safety problem area, but in some cases it shifts the blame and legal liability to the third-party in the case of a lawsuit. If you do nothing, it’s your grave you dug – but if you are attentive and detail-oriented in your procedure to rectify the issue, your company will be better for it in the long run.
This article was written by Matthew Hall. Matthew is all too familiar with the risks associated in different industries through is work experience in everything from hospitality to construction. Now, he is a professional writer for eCompliance.com. To read more of his work, feel free to visit his Google+.