When you’re busy getting a new business off the ground, you’re probably
focused on numbers. From figuring out how long it will take to earn a profit to what
you can afford to pay for marketing, employees, or office space, it’s easy to overlook
safety in your business plans.

From creating a safety manual to implementing a disaster plan, business
owners often leave safety considerations to their lawyer — “just make sure we’re
legal,” right?

It’s worth giving pause to consider the effect that emphasizing (or not
emphasizing) safety can have on your long-term goals and profit. An emergency
that’s handled improperly can leave a company vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. By
taking the time to implement a comprehensive safety plan, businesses strengthen
themselves against legal action and foster a culture of care. When workers feel like
their health is being considered, they’re more likely to give 100 percent at their jobs.

Whether you’re preparing for an initial safety inspection or simply
reasserting your company’s commitment to a safe work place, following these steps
will help prepare you for long-term prosperity:

• Implement a Responsibility Chain of Command

Too many workplace accidents occur that could have been prevented.
Oftentimes, the silence of workers who realize a problem but never speak up can be
a root factor of a problem. Whether you have four employees or four hundred, make
sure that each worker in your chain knows that speaking up is always appreciated
(and actually, required). This chain of command should be in place for both
prevention and response. Whether it’s an issue with equipment or a coworker, no
employee with concerns for their safety should ever fear negative repercussions for
speaking up.

• Create a Safety Manual

Most businesses distribute their safety manual to employees at the time of
their hiring, and few ever bother to open and read it. Although these manuals are
designed to meet legal requirements and protect a business in the event of an
accident, they also serve a real purpose in establishing safety protocol. Your manual
should address how the company deals with everything from onsite injuries to theft,
with written directives for employees and management. Even if your business
doesn’t utilize potential dangerous machinery or chemicals, something as minor as a
fistfight in the break room could leave the company vulnerable.

• Develop a Training Plan

Safety training in office environments gets a bad reputation, often for good
reason. Requiring employees to sit around watching a dull PowerPoint presentation
may meet legal requirements, but it’s hardly the best way for people to absorb
information.

Customize your training to your business, addressing real issues that could
arise. From tornadoes to earthquakes to electrocution, anything could happen
— even if it seems highly unlikely right now. Buy your employees lunch or take the
training sessions outside, and focus on actual scenarios and how you would deal
with them as a unit to keep everyone safe.

• Put Safety in the Forefront

Construction companies know all about safety signage, from hard hat zones
to signs warning of dangerous machinery. In office environments, however, workers
often get few reminders of the hazards of their jobs.

Consider hanging a few signs around break rooms and the office that depict
stretches or exercises employees can do at their desk to alleviate potential pain and
injury to their wrists and back. Where financially feasible, supply your office with
ergonomically friendly chairs and desks. Employees who feel that their well-being is
important to the company will be more likely to respond with a safe and healthy
lifestyle at work.

In addition, stock each area of your workplace with a first aid kit that
includes bandages, antiseptic, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Even if these are
used most often for small cuts or headaches, the ability to stop bleeding in the event
of a major accident could save a life in the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive.

• Get Insured

No matter what efforts you take to prevent accidents, there’s always the
chance of the unthinkable. When someone is injured at work, there will always be
lawyers encouraging them to sue the company, even if placing blame with the
employer is highly questionable, at best. Make sure that you’re adequately insured
in case the worst scenario arises.

By establishing a chain of command and fostering an environment of safety around
your workplace, you put your business in a well-prepared driver’s seat if the worst
was ever to occur. Not only will you meet legal requirements, you will proactively
take steps to prevent accidents from ever occurring.