As the way we work continues to evolve and change (for example, a dramatic rise in hybrid work arrangements), workplace safety will continue to be an important issue for all businesses. Due to their size, small businesses don’t have the same resources like staff, budget, and time to devote to workplace safety as larger businesses do. This means having a safety-minded culture is incredibly important for small business owners to cultivate.
In most areas of business, it pays to plan before diving into action. Workplace safety is no exception. No matter how large or small your business is, and no matter how sophisticated your employee safety plan is, taking some time to review and refresh it in the new year can pay off later.
If you’re one of the many small business owners who’s about to take a closer look at your workplace safety plan for 2023, here are a few new, and ongoing, workplace safety trends to keep in mind as you prepare for the coming year.
With the rise of digital technology and the changing nature of work, it’s more important than ever for employees to be properly trained in order to prevent accidents and injuries. In a traditional sense, safety training has included protocols for using workplace equipment and machinery as well as handling hazardous materials or situations. Workplace safety training often includes first aid, CPR, and AED certification so that people on-site are prepared to respond in an emergency.
While all of these traditional aspects of employee safety training are still applicable, many workplaces aren’t what they used to be—or where they used to be. The smartest small businesses will focus on training employees for safety, regardless of where and how they work in 2023.
For employees with a remote or hybrid work environment, common workplace injuries include tendon sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lower back pain. These are often caused by poor posture and bad ergonomics, which can be prevented if an employer provides the right home-office setup. You can also help keep your workforce safe by training them on how to take breaks to prevent muscle and eye strain, and by encouraging people to report symptoms early so they can get treatment and prevent a more serious condition from developing.
This isn’t a new trend, but since many workplaces have been distributed for the past couple of years, it’s worth repeating as more offices come back to in-person work (at least part of the time).
Workplace safety committees, which are typically made up of employees and management, are responsible for identifying and addressing potential safety hazards in the workplace. Members of a safety committee may be trained in life-saving procedures and be responsible for logistics during a safety emergency.
By establishing a workplace safety committee, small businesses can not only improve the overall safety of their workplaces, but they can also demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their employees. Having a safety-minded culture can help employees reduce accidents and injuries, which in turn can lower workers’ compensation premiums.
Wellness can mean different things to different people. However you define it, if your employees are “more well” they’ll logically suffer from fewer physical and mental ailments. While a wellness focus can’t prevent accidents from happening entirely, it can definitely contribute to a safer workplace.
For example, getting enough sleep is part of wellness, and people who aren’t sleeping well and are fatigued on the job are at higher risk of accidents. The same goes with nutrition: employees who aren’t eating well, or often enough, could have trouble focusing and get into trouble when operating machinery. Even clerical errors from too much time without a break can cost your company money and reputation.
There’s no doubt that your workplace will be safer, and your employees healthier, when your business supports everyone getting the breaks, food, water, and adequate rest they need for optimal physical and mental wellness.
Mobile apps and wearable technology have been around for a little while. Still, many workplaces aren’t taking advantage of the tech tools at their disposal to improve the health and safety of their workforce. If an app or smart device is available for your business, this is one safety trend you may want to consider implementing in 2023.
For example, there are apps that make reporting workplace accidents or near misses quicker and easier than ever before. Employees may be more willing to click a few buttons on their smartphones rather than take hours out of their day to complete paperwork. There are also new developments in traditional safety gear with a high-tech twist. A hardhat with smart sensors, for example, warns the wearer if they’ve been in the sun too long or are too close to a dangerous object.
Despite all the safety training and protocols, workplace accidents still happen. Small businesses should think about how they’d pay for employee medical expenses if an employee was injured on the job. The best way to know you won’t be left with large expenses and legal liability is to make sure you’ve got adequate workers’ compensation insurance (sometimes called workman’s comp) for all your employees.
Workers’ comp insurance provides financial protection for employers by covering medical bills and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job or become ill because of their work. In addition to providing financial protection for employees, workers’ compensation insurance can also protect small businesses from legal liability in the event of an accident or injury.
For as valuable as this coverage is, workers’ comp insurance may be more affordable than you think. If you’re a small business owner and unsure whether workers’ comp is required in your situation, or if you should purchase it even if it’s not required, speak with a trusted insurance agent about it or contact Pie Insurance for a quote.