Employee Safety for Businesses

Oct 9, 2019 | Business Insurance

We don’t know when disaster or emergency will strike

It was a typical workday Friday at the stationery shop that seemed no different from any other Friday; with the week winding down and everyone excited for their weekend plans, nobody thought much about this particular day.

It was past 3 pm when the last of the boxed merchandise was unloaded from the truck. This batch represented a 20 percent surplus from the usual stock levels in anticipation of the Black Friday sale.

To accommodate the excess volume, boxes were stacked as high as about a foot from the ceiling. Doreen, in charge of the storeroom, proceeded to have coffee and snacks at the pantry after all the hard work of counting, checking, stacking, and recording that commenced at about 10 in the morning.

Thirty minutes into her second cup of steaming hot joe with her 3rd twinkie and while cramming inside her head trying to remember where she left her mobile phone, it was then when the Fire Alarm blared.

Doreen realized that the faint burning smell her nose caught earlier was not the aroma of the brewing coffee but was the smell of the carton boxes catching fire. Her instinct told her to make a run for it.

Knowing that a fire exit was close by, she made a dash for the narrow pathway leading to the door. It could have been the panic she felt, it could have been the dimly lit corridor or it could have been the clutter strewn all around.

All she could remember when she woke up in Intensive Care was being sprawled on the ground a few feet away from the exit door and coughing and half choking from the smoke as her co-workers pulled her to safety.

Why should companies make every effort to ensure safety and health in the workplace?

As we all know, companies and employers must implement health and safety practices at work; not only is it statutory or mandated by law but it also makes for good business sense. Although many companies strive to do this as diligently as possible, there is still a high incidence of work-related injuries that turn into compensation claims of employees – Not exactly any business owner’s cup of tea. 

These compensation claims not only hurt the company’s bottom line at face value but in the long run may cause a domino effect and reduce employee satisfaction and sense of security, slash their productivity, and worse, decrease retention/increase the turnover of employees.

Workers who may feel dissatisfied and unsafe are more likely to begin looking for “greener” and “safer” pastures to graze on, so to speak.

Today, we look deeper at the various aspects of this topic and talk about different ways and means by which to deal with them accordingly.

Why are both the safety of employees and labor safety important?

Given the high costs of work-related illnesses, injuries, and even work-related deaths that dig deep into the pockets of business owners, we could definitely say that ‘Safety is King’, with the top reasons being:

  • Reduces health risks for employees
  • Positive business image to prospective employees, business partners, and/or consumers
  • Reduces the chance of lawsuits from disgruntled employees and possible administrative fines from government agencies 
  • Lowers EMR (Experience Modifier Rate) for workers comp premiums 
  • More importantly, provides for a work environment that is high in morale that naturally translates to loyalty, better productivity, lower absenteeism, and employee turnover for that matter. 

What’s going on?

The National Safety Council estimated the total cost of workplace accidents at $ 161.5 billion in 2017 alone, where $12.5 billion of these expenses come from uninsured employers. This also includes 104,000,000 days lost in the same year due to occupational accidents.

In the coming years, another 55,000,000 days of fatal injuries and permanent disability were also forecast and may even rise. Also, according to the file of claims dating from 2016 to 2017, the most expensive claims are due to motor vehicle accidents, which averaged $ 78,293 per submitted case across the United States.

The only other injuries at work with high costs were burns, slip & fall, and caught in machinery. This may seem like a jumble of numbers but what all of this means is more expenses, losses in revenue, and productivity for many companies and a huge headache for business owners.

A recent national survey done by the Hartford Financial Services Group found out that 58 percent of blue-collared families have had run-ins with workplace accidents where their family member was involved and that it required urgent medical attention.

That being said, a typical blue-collar worker expects to be injured at least once at work. Whereas a white-collar employee anticipates being “slight-injured” even once.

What comes to light is the reality that not all workplaces have good safety measures in place and these include protocols, practices, and infrastructure, the most important of which is insurance.

A similar study also revealed that employees know this fact all too well and believe it or not are even anticipating, albeit unwillingly, to be injured at work and encounter these challenges first-hand. Also, 55 percent of them are willing to sit down and discuss these issues with co-workers, managers, and business owners just to allay their fears and worries.

The Bottom Line and Employee Satisfaction

Companies, regardless of their corporate nature, size, orientation, or advocacy, all bat for the same thing – a hefty bottom line. This is called as so as it pertains to the bottom figure of the Income Statement which is the Net Income – “the meat of the pie”.

In the traditional Accounting sense, it is the end financial result after all the workings and interactions of the company’s Assets, Liabilities, Capital, Revenue, Expenses, and even Drawings.

On top of the list is “Asset” which has been defined as a resource with an economic value that an individual, corporation, or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit. 

Recently, however, and more relevantly in the eyes of modern Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM), Employees are now considered as a company’s most valuable asset.

Gone are the days when Scrooge-type employers rule the industries enriching themselves at the expense of the blue-collar lot who are made to skip Christmas Eve with their families and other such personal liberties, all for another measly buck.

It is now the generation of well-rounded entrepreneurs such as $4 Billion business magnate Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Atlantic Group, voted as the top 7 employers to best work for.

Branson believes that if the company takes care of its employees, everything else will take care of themself. The company’s people-centered culture has since created a mark in the business industry and has become the signature of employees under the Virgin Group.

This explains the high level of customer service and engagement that can be observed as one interacts with their brand and which quite easily exudes from their collective culture.

Consequently, a high level of customer service delivery translates to happier clients who keep coming back and spreading the good word to other potential customers who themselves find the need to experience it and who later become satisfied patrons as well. No wonder the strong performance and showing of Virgin Companies, and other such companies who practice the same.

Workplace Safety and Insurance

In deriving the employee compensation premium, company payroll is divided by 100 and then by a factor or ‘class rate’ determined by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

The main consideration is the job classification reflecting the inherent risk associated with a particular job. Say, a construction worker versus that of an office clerk, where the former is more at risk at being injured versus that of the latter. This only goes to show that a higher premium can be attributed to a higher probability of injury and consequently an insurance claim.

An EMR or Employee Modifier Rate may increase or decrease the number of premiums but that all depends on incidences of a past claim vis-a-vis anticipated chances of claims in the future. The industry norm is an EMR value of 1.0. But whatever the figure is, the rating sticks around for three years until the next evaluation. 

What can be done?

With certain jobs prone to various types of injury or accidents, and a huge rise of workers comp claims in many companies in the United States, how can companies manage and control the safety of employees? How can anyone lower their Experience Modifier Rating or EMR?

Here are a few tips:

  • Education and Training

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Of course, taking the time to train staff is exhausting. Showing the correct posture or tool for a task can be just as labor-intensive as the task itself.

Ensuring that bright warning signs are placed where needed is both tedious and expensive. Many online compliance training courses can be availed that can benefit your employees and your business.

At the end of the day, it is less stressful and costly than the billions of dollars lost through serious, non-fatal, and fatal work-related injury; as well as workers comp claims that bump up your insurance premiums.

  • Regular Safety Checks and Maintenance

After becoming familiar with safety and its importance in the workplace, you must ensure that all equipment is functional and that working conditions are kept safe are also key elements in safety.

If an employee finds that equipment is defective or any tools that need to be replaced, this must be reported immediately to avoid further danger to other on-site employees.

  • Manage and Enforce Security Protocols

So, now that we know what to do, it’s time to make sure everyone is doing the right thing. If your company has fleet auto insurance, one of the good add ons would be Telematic.

An entire fleet of cars can be monitored or tracked for performance and if they’re in possible danger. Keeping one person safe is fantastic! But the security of your business, the people your business provides services to, and the community your business belongs to is even better!

  • Be Realistic

When the going gets tough, we need to call the experts. Whether it’s occupational and worker safety or simply asking for guidance from insurance experts, knowing when to ask for help is detrimental to success.

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Life after accident

The investigation revealed that the fire started from Doreen’s mobile phone charger that overheated as it was plugged in a wall socket inside the stockroom for too long while being too close to the carton boxes. The inquiry also shed light on several occupational hazards and malpractices that aggravated the already dire situation at the time.

First, the stacking of merchandise too close to the fire sprinklers prevented it from operating optimally.

Second, corridors or pathways leading to secondary emergency exits must be well illuminated and free from tripping or blocking hazards to give way to speedy and smooth exiting in case of emergencies.

Third, employees should have been educated or at the very least aware of basic safety and health protocols in their workplaces, given that it’s their life and limbs that are on the line, to begin with.

Conclusion

If you need sound advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will always be there to make your life hassle-free and stress-free by finding the perfect solution for your insurance needs. At Advantage Insurance Solutions (AIS) we can assure you of quality protection for individuals, families, and businesses in Denver, Colorado, and throughout the United States by helping you choose the best carrier for your insurance needs.