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Workplace Injury Guide for Small Business

Updated on July 14, 2012
Source

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Depending on your industry, you and your employees can accidentally hurt yourselves at your business locations. Injuries can be as minor as wrist strain from excessive typing or as debilitating as a fall from the top of a construction site. Observing some guidelines can avoid accidents, prevent injuries from getting worse and minimize company liability.

Employer Responsibilities

You are required to comply with all federal, state and local laws about workplace safety. This includes obtaining workman’s compensation insurance, if your state has it, posting laws relating to it, supplying its forms and providing medical treatment up to its mandated cost limits. You must eliminate or control all hazards. For example, ensure adequate lighting at desks, provide protective equipment if needed and store poisonous materials in clearly marked containers. Consider conducting a job hazard analysis, as described by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This activity enables you to identify potential causes of injury, and then eliminate or reduce them.

Identifying Risks

Part of job hazard analysis is identifying ergonomic risks by examining the physical activities that your workers must perform. Ask questions about why they do the activity, how they do it and how repetitive it is. For example, if you own a grocery store, one common activity is restocking shelves. Are boxes of goods brought to the shelves on a dolly or by lifting? If boxes are lifted, does the employee bend over, reach above shoulder height or twist? Does she scan stocked items using the same wrist movement for several minutes? After you answer the questions, you can develop guidelines to prevent and treat injuries. For example, you can caution employees to lift boxes using the knees rather than the back. You can also have on hand ice packs and cold compresses to deal with back strain.

Injury Prevention Programs

Many states and industries have developed injury prevention programs with mandates from OSHA. Successful programs are led by management, identify and control hazards, educate all workers, and undergo constant evaluation and improvement. Contact your state OSHA to determine what programs apply to your business and location. Compliance typically requires formal training at an approved facility, which then awards a certificate of completion that must be renewed periodically. Examples of formal programs include electrical safety awareness, fire prevention and extinguisher use, back injury prevention, power/hand tool safety and construction industry programs that cover several topics in a week of training.

Reporting

Anyone who is hurt at your workplace must report his injuries immediately to his supervisor or yourself. The injury requires written documentation that includes the name of the employee and supervisor, business contact information, date and time of the injury, description of the cause and the action taken. This reporting allows immediate medical attention, prevents delays in receiving benefits from state and federal sources, and can minimize your business liability because it proves you acted in a prompt and responsible manner. You must then provide emergency treatment for the victim, first at your business and then at a medical facility. These responses must also be documented in the report.

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    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      An excellent point, algarveview -- I think most workers would rather keep a highly trained worker rather than replace him or her.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 

      6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Alocsin, very interesting and useful hub. This is an important subject, which a lot of times both employers and employees overlook, because there's no immediate profit and usually no immediate consequences. Usually people just remember these things after there's been an accident or a serious professional injury/illness. But the point is that replacing a worker means losing a lot of money (employers should really consider that, maybe it would change their point of view), because you need to train and teach and at the same time some injuries last for the rest of the worker's life, so is it really worth it, overlooking prevention? Voted up, useful and sharing! Have a great day!

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      How exciting, Ruchira. Be sure and let us know in a hub or two how that business venture goes.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 

      6 years ago from United States

      This is a compact hub giving all the necessary information. I guess it makes it very important for having an insurance to cover up for any accidents.

      I am looking into starting my Reiki practice and your hub enlightened me further to seriously look into insurance for clients visiting me.

      voted up and bookmarking it.

      thanks alocsin!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A great article with useful information. You never know when an injury is going to become a problem in the future so it is always best to report it.

      Thanks for sharing

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That is discouraging, formosangirl, though thank for describing a way around it.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Lol, Brett, I was wondering why an anonymous poster would bother telling me how he voted.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Alocsin, as a Federal employee, I found that my medical insurance will not cover any injuries due to work-related injuries. This is really discouraging if you do not follow through with a work-related injury claim, even if one must report it. I suppose this is for claim purposes and extra paperwork the doctor may have to complete. For that reason, most who want to follow through after an injury just ask for a normal checkup rather than one for the workers' compensation purpose. Interesting article.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Tesol 

      6 years ago from Asia

      The anonymous comment is from me, very strange!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Very good advice. Small businesses need to be active in preventing injuries and be careful to have plenty of liability insurance. Without these, their business life could come to an abrupt end!

      Shared, up and useful.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Yikes, I'm glad you survived that Nell.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Your accidental discoveries sound like a great basis for a hub, fpherj48. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 

      6 years ago

      Good information and well put together...voted up and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Good information on this topic. My sister just suffered an injury on the job, wish the company was as well informed on this information. She is having a hard time with their processing of the injury. Voted up.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      Another well written Hub on the Work Place. Good Guide, with very Practical as well as useful Information Alocin. It certainly deserves my Vote of UP too!

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 

      6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Useful and informative Hub. Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Small and large businesses alike need to be concerned with safety and the goal of avoiding as many workplace injuries as possible. Useful and informative hub. Votes up and SHARED.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, I could have used this a few times over the years! from really sore paper cuts to actually slicing my hand open with a stanley knife when working with fancy dress equipment, we used a roller to get rid of lint and excess cotton, and we had to open the roll packet with a stanley knife, only I cut my hand badly instead of the roll! I didn't pass out, but my colleague did! voted up!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Alocsin, you wrote a great Hub explaining injuries in the workplace. This can be a real problem for employee and employer alike. I voted it UP, etc.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      6 years ago from Pune, India

      alocsin, it's a useful Hub. Thank you for sharing.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      This is wonderfully useful information, both for small business owners and their employees.

      Voting up and SHARED.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Alocsin.....Where was this hub many injuries and scars ago? Actually, all the Safety tips and Prevention Programs will not save me.

      I have calmly accepted the fact that I am a continual accident, waiting to happen. Seriously. From childhood. At a young age, my Dad nicknamed me, "Grace."

      Anywhere and everywhere at any time at all....fall, trip, drop, tear, bump, bruise, lose and slam.

      My son is a Safety Supervisor for a major construction company. I'm proud to say that I believe I was his inspiration............Wonderful hub, Alocsin and I'm sure it will be most helpful to everyone else who reads it!!! UP+++

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      This is a nice tight, useful hub. The paper cut gave me a chuckle. Too many people start to learn their lesson after an injury or incident.

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