Being a smart business owner is a bit like plumbing: it’s vital that there aren’t any leaks, because they can lead to serious problems. It’s easier for plumbers to spot leaks in exposed pipes or joints, much like business owners tend to be skilled at identifying and reducing marketing, supply, and personnel expenses. But when the leak is coming from an unseen location (like behind a wall), remedying the problem can become more difficult.
And before long, it becomes impossible to hide the damage.
With business owners, workers’ compensation costs are a common source of these “hidden” leaks in the bank account. Thankfully, there are measures that can be taken to prevent this from happening. Here are 15 suggestions on how to reduce these costs:
1. It starts with the culture. Stressing safety in the workplace and training employees on how to prevent accidents will send the signal that you take this subject seriously.
2. Outline accident response procedures. Establish clear guidelines on how to deal with workplace accidents, including where to find medical supplies, when to call an ambulance, and how to document these incidents correctly.
3. Pair tasks with abilities. Try to assign workers tasks according to their abilities. For example, don’t send a short person to stock high shelves or an elderly worker to move heavy boxes.
4. Pay attention to chemicals. Hazardous substances must be stored properly and labeled clearly. Also, employees who use them must be instructed on how to use them safely.
5. Embrace ergonomics. Small changes like keyboard wrist guards, user-friendly hand tools, and reflective tape on steps will go a long way toward lowering the risk of on-the-job injuries.
6. Leave safety equipment alone. Never tamper with or remove guards, pads, glass, or other equipment parts that are designed to keep workers safe.
7. Make the workplace safe during a fire. Check all fire extinguishers to ensure they work properly. Never block or lock fire exits. And test your safety sprinkler system periodically.
8. Clear walkways and aisles. Keeping high-traffic passageways clear of clutter will decrease the chances of someone tripping and falling. Also, make sure that these areas are well-lit.
Signs are good. Clearing walkways is better.
9. Mop or wipe up spills promptly. The longer a spill sits, the more likely it is to be forgotten by employees. That’s when a serious slip-and-fall accident can occur.
10. Use floor mats strategically. Place floor mats near entryways, in break areas, inside kitchen areas, and anywhere else where moisture may accumulate.
11. Clean up ice and snow. Promptly shovel walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots after an ice or snow storm. Salt or sand concrete surfaces when possible to prevent ice formation.
12. Report workers’ compensation claims as soon as possible. Don’t put off informing your insurer about injuries, accidents, or claims. The sooner you address these issues, the easier it will be to contain workers’ comp costs.
13. Don’t forget about injured employees. Check up on them periodically and encourage them to return to work – even on a limited basis. The longer they’re out of commission, the higher your workers comp costs will be.
14. Review your claims. At least once a year, go over all of your workers’ compensation claims to see if patterns emerge. Then take the steps to strengthen safety protocols or reduce costs.
15. Watch for fraud. Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious problem in the U.S. Be sure that no one is taking advantage of your program, and don’t hesitate to investigate questionable claims.
If left unaddressed, even a small leak in a plumbing system can result in major headaches. And if you aren’t keeping tabs on your workers’ compensation costs, the resulting drain on your finances could “erode” the success of your business.
This just breaks your heart.
Written by Chris Martin