Safety Risks Many Small Businesses Overlook

small businesses

Opening a small business in an uncertain economy comes with big risks. And yet, we’ve seen an uptick in small business ventures across the U.S. and Switzerland throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These risks vary from fiscal to physical, but it’s human safety risks we’ll be covering here.

The sad reality is that many small businesses overlook common safety hazards that could impact workers at any moment. From vehicle safety to warning signage, actions must be taken to address these hazards and promote a safer environment for workers.

As a labor shortage impacts a host of industries, small businesses must prioritize worker safety now more than ever to secure healthy working environments for their employees. Consider these safety risks to better avoid injury to people and equipment.

Driving Hazards

One of the most prevalent instances of workplace accidents is traffic collisions. Often, these accidents occur as a result of optimism bias. This is the attitude of believing yourself or your business less likely to experience negative outcomes and more likely to experience positive ones. While we might all want to look on the positive side, this can make work more dangerous — especially while in a vehicle.

That’s because all kinds of hazards can occur while driving. If you aren’t on the lookout for negligent driving, road obstacles, and other threats, they might affect you — because whether you’re looking or not, they happen anyway. Unfortunately, many small business enterprises (SMEs) overlook this integral element of safety. They neglect additional vehicle training and inspections or fail to monitor driving metrics until an accident occurs.

How to avoid these risks: There’s never a guarantee against a traffic accident, but workers can be kept safer by consistent training and reminders as well as advancing technology. Devices on the Internet of Things (IoT), for instance, make it possible to monitor and improve driving conditions for driving employees. Consider these smart tools as you coordinate a safer approach to transportation.

Slips and Spills

Then, there’s the risk of slips on office floors, sidewalks, or any other surface where your workers and clients tread. Without proper care and attention, a slippery surface becomes a liability issue that could drag your SME down with whoever happens to slip and injure themself. That’s why training for environmental safety is one of the most important aspects of small business risk management.

Environmental safety teaches workers to pay attention to the world around them and the impacts of their actions on it. Many SMEs miss out on emphasizing this point with disastrous results. From slips and falls to chemical and oil spills, inattention to what’s around you can be devastating both in terms of your bottom line and human consequences.

How to avoid these risks: Monitoring, labeling, and cleaning up slippery areas as quickly as possible is in every SMEs best interest. Ensure you are following proper OSHA protocol and call worker attention to slippery surfaces with clear signage.

Lifting

Another common cause of workplace accidents is the damage done from the improper lifting of heavy objects. Workers are often hurried, tired, or both. That being the case, proper lifting technique often goes out the window while workers rush to complete a difficult and tedious task. Lifting a heavy item wrong, however, can cause all kinds of health problems for employees. This may then result in costly legal battles, employee compensation, and even workplace downtime. 

How to avoid these risks: To avoid the risks that come with poor lifting techniques, laborers must be properly trained and supervised. From here, consistently practices OSHA’s recommendations for safe lifting. These include:

  • Plant your feet close to the base of the object.
  • Bend your knees and squat, lifting with your legs.
  • Maintain a straight back and hold the item with the long axis straight up.

Outdated Tech

This last commonly overlooked risk factor for SMEs is one you might not expect. After all, how can outdated technology cause physical safety risks for small business employees?

The truth is that outdated tech can have big consequences for businesses. Not only do these no-longer-supported tools present oversight challenges and operational difficulties that might be streamlined with an update, but they can also lead to safety risks through exposed data.

For instance, vulnerable employee personal data or financial information about your business is more likely to be exposed through an archaic data system. This could put your small business and employees at risk of theft, robbery, or fraud. All of these unfortunate circumstances come with their own health and safety risks.

How to avoid these risks: Look for areas where you can upgrade your tech to promote greater employee security. Whether this security is physical or digital, all fronts help workers maintain healthy productive lives. Just be sure to focus on employee success during the integration of new technologies to reduce the threats that come from human error.

Preventing Safety Risks as a Small Business

Every small business will face safety risks in multiple forms. Depending on your own business model, maybe some of these commonly overlooked factors won’t threaten you. However, planning against the likelihood of all kinds of accidents can help you cement your success in an uncertain era.

As we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and create innovative business solutions, consider these tips for making workplaces safer. As a result, you’ll cut costs and improve employee well-being. Create a small business that employees want to work for by avoiding these safety risks wherever possible.

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