Small businesses need to prepare for potential, costly lawsuits. Workplace injuries and illnesses cost businesses billions of dollars per year. And it’s not just the injuries and illnesses of today that are a cause for concern.
Businesses also need to be conscious of materials that may be harmful in the future.
1. Overexertion Injuries are Most Common
Overexertion is a serious concern for small businesses. Why? Employees that handle objects that are too heavy or placed in a small space will overexert themselves. It’s these actions which will lead to:
- Back injuries
And in terms of numbers, these injuries cost $15+ billion per year and account for over 24% of direct costs involving disabling injuries.
Lifting policies, proper storage techniques and proper equipment can help limit these injuries.
2. Falls are Costly
Falls are divided into “same level” and “to lower level.” These two categories are the second and third most costly injuries. Falls are often avoidable, and this may mean consistent repairs in the workplace or making sure that proper workplace signage is present to warn about potential hazards.
Falls on the same level account for 16.4% of injuries, or $10.17 billion in costs. Falls to a lower level account for 8.7% of injury costs, or $5.4 billion to employers. A few approaches can be taken to limit the risk and potential injuries from falling:
- Add proper signage
- Respond to repair requests quickly
- Inspect work areas often
- Provide proper safety equipment
- Incorporate policies that limit fall risks
If a company takes a proactive approach to falls, they’ll be able to limit the number of falls in the workplace.
3. Illnesses in the Workplace
Worker illness costs employers over $225 billion annually, and a lot of these costs are due to workers not making it into the workplace. Sick workers that come into the workplace cost employers $150 billion to $250 billion.
Illness and sickness, including chronic illnesses and an aging workforce, aren’t the only things that employers need to be concerned about.
When dealing with dangerous materials or chemicals, businesses also need to be concerned about potential future illnesses that occur. Asbestos, a material that was once used extensively, was found to cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is deadly and very aggressive.
“Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year,” explains Vogelzang Law. Since the cancer can take decades to present, many companies are being sued today for products that were used 40+ years ago in some cases.
Settlements can be eye watering per case.
4. Object-related Injuries
Object-related injuries include being struck with an object or colliding with an object. These injuries account for 10% of all injuries, according to an analysis of 1.5 million claims. Objects may be dropped by another employee, or they may drop from a higher surface.
Object-related injuries account for 8.6% of all injuries, costing employees more than $5.31 billion.
Statistics show that injuries tend to happen to those that have less experience on the job. Almost 25% of injuries happen to workers that have less than a year of experience on the job.