Employee Injuries Can Wound Small Businesses
Small businesses have to carefully manage their costs to survive and grow. Employee injuries can be a difficult expense for them to absorb and can also hurt workplace morale. Despite the best efforts of business owners, ultimately injuries in the workplace can’t be completely avoided.
Financial services company The Hartford said in a recent report that there is a 50 percent chance that a small business will have a Workers’ Compensation claim in the next 10 years. This prediction was based on the company’s analysis of its claims data over a five-year period. The Hartford also found that 29 percent of small business owners worry about workplace injuries happening.
Office Environments Are Changing – Bringing New Hazards
- Employees could get injured using new workstations such as conference bikes and treadmill desks
- Constant use of mobile devices can produce neck and back problems from bending over, and thumb pain from texting
- Pet-friendly policies can be great until an employee gets bitten or suffers an allergic reaction
- 24/7 work cultures can prevent employees from getting enough sleep
- Work time “play” activities, such as climbing walls, can raise the risk of injuries
In addition, employees who travel by car frequently are subject to health risks from prolonged sitting and awkward body postures assumed behind the wheel.
The Hartford’s study found that injuries to the arms, hands and shoulders were the most common, at 40 percent of all injuries. Foot, leg and pelvis injuries were next at 27 percent, followed by neck and back injuries at 20 percent. The costliest injuries were to internal organs ($37,000), multiple body parts ($34,000), and necks and backs ($32,000).
A study by The Travelers Companies found that strains and sprains were the most common type of injury (30 percent). Cuts and punctures were next, followed by contusions, with inflammations (such as tendinitis) and fractures rounding out the top five.
As might be expected, the costliest injury claims in The Hartford study came from the construction industry, with all of the dangerous conditions those workplaces entail. The transportation and public utility sector was next, followed by finance, insurance and real estate, wholesale trade and services.
Make Your Workplace Safer
- Conduct regular safety audits to identify and correct unsafe conditions
- Keep floors clear to reduce tripping
- Give employees equipment or guards, such as gloves and safety goggles, to protect themselves
- Considering the design and risks of furniture like conference bikes and treadmill desks
- Formal policies on the proper use of mobile devices
- Assessing the risks of pet-friendly policies
- Setting expectations about when employees should respond to emails outside standard work hours
- Exploring ways to make worksite play programs safer
- Taking steps to make long drives safer and easier on the drivers’ and passengers’ bodies
Workplace injuries are expensive and disruptive for small businesses and can make it harder to keep good employees. Making workplaces safer does not have to be expensive, but it requires forethought and focus. In the long run, it will keep employees happier and make businesses more profitable.
Let us help you make informed decision about your business insurance needs. Our licensed agents specialize in helping small businesses obtain the best coverage at the best price, give us a call today at 888-834-8619.