Originally published by Bob Kraft.
One thing that can cause a lot of trouble for a company is a safety hazard. Obviously, your first concern should be protecting your employees from workplace injuries. However, there can also be other significant ramifications for not making the effort to maintain a safe workplace. Below are some of the ways that workplace hazards can cause big legal troubles for your business.
1. OSHA Violations
The OSHA acronym stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is the government agency that has been given the responsibility of creating and enforcing rules and regulations regarding workplace safety. OSHA guidelines cover nearly every conceivable angle of work, and breaking them can have serious consequences. If you fail an OSHA inspection, your company could face serious penalties including harsh fines.
Overall, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the ability to conform to all of OSHA’s rules. For example, certain companies deal with hazardous materials. Being able to properly store, move and dispose of those materials in compliance with OSHA may require special training from a company like National Environmental Trainers.
2. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The law in most states (but not in Texas) requires that employers provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance, often referred to as workers’ comp for short. This was developed as a compromise to protect employees form workplace injuries without the use of lawsuits.
As one might expect, claims made on such a policy can have a significant impact on the rates the employer pays. In general, the rate will be based on a combination of the amount of payroll a company does and the number of claims that have been made in the past four to five years. Even without lawsuits, having an unsafe workplace can quickly get very expensive.
3. Lawsuits Outside of Workers’ Comp
Despite the fact that workers’ compensation was developed as a way to save companies from the burden of lawsuits brought on by workplace injuries, there are enough loopholes that may still allow lawsuits to succeed under certain circumstances.
For example, if a product or piece of machinery that you manufactured resulted in the injury, the worker in question could bring a massive lawsuit against the company. In most cases, when employees can sue, they probably will. Workers’ compensation certainly does not provide the level of income that a successful lawsuit can.
The legal and financial implications of an unsafe workplace can be rather severe. Avoid them by making safety a top priority in your company. It’s the right thing to do regardless.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.
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