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P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
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Business Protection Bulletin
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Tips for Improving Employee Health
One of the best things that you can do to avoid injury and illness on the job is to simply encourage good health in the workplace. There are a number of ways to do this without breaking the bank, without having to hire a whole team of personal trainers, and truth be told, without having to put all that much effort forth. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Providing Healthy Food
Keeping healthy snacks stocked in the break room is a great way to encourage your employees to eat a little better. When you leave the office, hungry, looking for a bite, you're likely to grab a pastry, a burger, a soda, but who can turn down a free meal at the office, even if that meal happens to be a salad and a bottle of water?
Rewards for Healthy Behavior
A fifty dollar gift certificate now and then is a small investment to make in order to encourage employees to stay fit. You can give out a monthly reward to workers who walk or bicycle to work or make the switch from coffee and energy drinks to water.
Underworked and Reasonably Paid
Some employers feel that they're saving money by paying people less. The fact is that someone who will accept half as much will take three times as long to do the job. This is bad for your bottom line and bad for employee health. You need people who are efficient enough that they won't need to do overtime and skip lunch breaks in order to meet a deadline.
Go Above and Beyond in Health Coverage
There are minimum requirements for certain businesses when it comes to employee health care. Meeting those standards is step one. You may be able to do a lot of good for your business and for your people by taking it to step two, and seeing where you can surpass expectations. Minimal coverage means that your people are covered should something happen. Going a little farther means that your employees won't hesitate to get regular checkups and keep themselves in tip-top condition.
There's that saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maybe you can, say, make accommodations for your assistant once they develop carpal tunnel, but it may be wiser to simply ensure that they take breaks now and then so that they never develop the condition in the first place.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Developing Your Plan B
There are times when putting a project on hold simply isn't an option. Something falls through, key personnel have to take leave, your budget is cut, but you need to keep moving forward. Business protection is there to cover losses, but what happens when you're not after recompense for losses, but simply a way to take the next step, even though you've been handicapped by a significant setback?
Consider Your Ends
Has your business strategy been foiled by a recent setback, or do you simply need to shift your tactics a bit? You may need to rethink your approach, but you may find that there's actually a simpler way to get where you're going than you'd thought. Think about your end goal in terms of desired effect. Suppose that you need to have a prototype for a website in order to show your investors by the end of the week, but a hardware crash cost you several days worth of labor hours. You might not have time to build another prototype, but would a mockup created in Photoshop achieve the same end result?
In any event, your aim is going to be not so much to shift your end goal, but to reconsider what that end goal is on a more fundamental level. How can you achieve the same effect within your current means?
Consider Your Means
There are setbacks that will demand that you completely overhaul your way of developing a project. In any office there are those linchpins, the people who you could never really replace. Maybe you can hire a temp to do some of their work, but if they ever left for good, things just wouldn't be the same. A project budgeted at $10,000 needs to seriously change in scale and scope when the budget is cut down to $5,000.
In every industry we see the penalty for failing to adapt, whether to minor setbacks, such as when Terry Gilliam famously canceled his movie Man of La Mancha over changes in the weather, or long term changes, as we've seen with the record industry, which took about 16 years to catch up with how people were consuming music in a post-internet age.
When you experience a setback, minor or major, it's not game over. You may need to rethink how you're approaching your work, you may need to strip a project down to its essential components, but rare are the circumstances where your only choice is to simply give up. Keeping a contingency plan in place, and learning how to adapt on the fly will help you weather almost any setback.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
How Could Anyone Possibly Get Hurt?
Okay, so you run a relatively low-risk workplace. Maybe it's an office or a small retailer or a coffee shop, somewhere where you don't need forklifts, power tools or deep fryers. These environments actually bring their own hazards in that we tend to be most vulnerable when we are least prepared. The simplest tasks are perhaps not quite as likely to lead to injury as, say, working in sanitation or long-haul trucking, but that doesn't mean that the risk is completely non-existent. Here are a few tasks that seem easy enough, but where safety precautions should nevertheless be taken:
Okay, that one sounds ridiculous, right? But how many times have you walked through a cluttered room crossing your fingers that you don't trip on something, or that nothing falls on you? Simple falls actually account for around $8.61 in costs a year, at 16.9% of all injuries. Simple falls are the number two cause of all workplace injuries.
Lifting and Carrying
Overexertion is the number one cause of on-the-job injury, and you don't need to be working on a construction site for this to happen to you. How many times have you seen an employee trying to carry several boxes of files at once instead of just going to the janitor's closet and grabbing a dolly? Overexertion related injuries from lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling or simply holding something too heavy make up around 26.8% of annual workplace injuries. Make sure your employees practice common sense and that they don't try to lift anything they can't comfortable carry.
The National Safety Council has pointed out that it's actually surprisingly dangerous to leave a whole bunch of drawers open in a file cabinet. Remember that most of the weight in a file cabinet is in the drawers. Pop open too many at a time and these cabinets can become unbalanced and tip over, leading to serious injury.
Not all injuries involve a sudden accident. Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS-like symptoms are said to affect around half of all office workers according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Regular breaks and ergonomic equipment can help to prevent these symptoms from developing.
Sitting, standing, walking, typing, these all seem like safe enough activities, and there are more dangerous jobs, of course, but any time you're using your body, there is the potential for injury if you're not careful.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Eliminating Distraction in the Workplace
When it comes to certain jobs, a split second distraction can have dire consequences. If the job involves driving, operating power tools or machinery, if you work in a kitchen, near traffic, or around anything that's hot, loud or heavy, you generally can't afford to take your eyes off the task at hand. Unfortunately, daily life in the 21st Century is simply packed with distraction from the moment you wake up to the minute you hit the hay. Here are some tips for making sure that those distractions don't affect the job.
An easy way to eliminate distraction numero uno: Simply don't allow phones in any part of the workplace where you're going to need to stay vigilant around forklifts, table saws and scaffoldings. Keep a plastic container, a shoebox or a desk drawer near the entrance so that workers and visitors can leave their phones somewhere handy without being distracted around hazards.
Sweat the Small Stuff
When it comes to minor annoyances throughout the day, it's best not to get worked up about the small stuff. When it comes to workplace safety, on the other hand, it's the small stuff that creates a domino effect that can lead to serious injury. Fuzzy dice dangling from a driver's rearview mirror, for instance, can create a moment's distraction when you need it the least. Somebody turning the radio up too loud in a loading zone can prevent them from hearing when you yell "duck!" Do a sweep of dangerous work areas now and then and make sure that there's nothing to divide your employees' attention.
Key Personnel Only
There's usually nothing wrong with letting people visit you in an office setting, but you don't want people visiting a warehouse or a factory or a construction site unless they absolutely need to be there. Letting friends and family members come and go from a dangerous work site as they please is a recipe for disaster. If someone doesn't wind up being distracted talking to someone who shouldn't be there, then the person who shouldn't be there is likely to get hurt. If people need to visit, and they don't absolutely need to be on the floor, let them do their visiting outside, in the lobby, anywhere but around the heavy machinery.
Keeping a distraction-free workzone really comes down to common sense: Do a walkthrough of the area, and anything that catches your attention will probably catch someone else's attention at just the wrong moment.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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