Don’t Overlook These Small Business Risks

CMR Risk & Insurance Services Inc. > Blog > Business > Don’t Overlook These Small Business Risks
Posted by: CMR April 2, 2024 No Comments

Half of small businesses have had at least one workplace injury in the last five years, says a recent survey on small business safety from Pie Insurance. The survey consisted of over 1,000 small business owners (of companies with 1-500 employees), and nearly one-third of these owners said that they wished they had known to put a higher priority on employee safety when they started their business.

Though most minds drift to physical job-related injuries, like from machinery in a factory or burns from a restaurant stove, when discussing job safety, today’s business owners are increasingly concerned about a number of less obvious risks.

Workplace violence

Workplace assaults resulted in 57,610 injuries from 2021 to 2022, and 525 deaths in 2022 alone, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). This makes assault the fifth leading cause of workplace deaths. While some industries are more prone to these events than others, workplace violence can happen anywhere.

There is no way to predict an attack, but some of the behaviors people should be aware of in their coworkers that could signal the potential for future violence include:

  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Unexplained absenteeism or a decline in job performance
  • Depression, withdrawal or suicidal comments
  • Resistance to changes at work and persistent complaints about unfair treatment
  • Emotional responses to criticism
  • Paranoia

Natural disasters

Extreme climate events, like wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms, aren’t just a threat to business property; they’re a threat to business operations. Severe weather can force businesses to shut down for extended periods, keep employees from being able to reach their workplace and even affect their customer base, which can all damage the business’ bottom line.

While natural disasters can’t be prevented, there are proactive measures businesses can take to mitigate the damage caused by these events. It is imperative that owners take the time to create emergency preparedness plans and provide proper training on these procedures to all employees.

Mental health

According to Pie’s survey, of business owners who reported having at least one workplace injury over the last five years, 13% said their most common workplace injury was mental stress. That number climbs to 22% among young entrepreneurs (18 to 34 years old).

Just a few of the issues the World Health Organization (WHO) considers to be risks to mental health at work include:

  • Excessive workloads and understaffing
  • Long, unsocial or inflexible hours
  • Unsafe or poor physical working conditions
  • Limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision
  • Violence, harassment or bullying
  • Job insecurity
  • Inadequate pay

How can business owners get ahead of these risks?

In addition to the survey, Pie Insurance created a checklist — drawing from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) best practices — of things small business owners should keep in mind as they evaluate their safety practices. These best practices include the following:

  • Make sure employees are educated on procedures to report injuries, hazards, illnesses and other safety-related incidents.
  • Review and update the business’ emergency response plans to include all potential circumstances, including fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. All employees should receive training on emergency procedures, and should be made aware of established evacuation routes and assembly points.
  • Enhance security protocols to limit the risk of threats like shootings, intruders, assaults and robberies. As with the emergency preparedness plan, all employees should be trained on security procedures and how to respond if they encounter workplace violence.
  • Acknowledge the impact of mental health in the workplace, and seek to create a culture of understanding and support for employees. Encourage open dialogue about these issues and provide resources for support networks.
  • Workplace safety trainings should be comprehensive — addressing both physical and mental health risks.
  • Inspect the entire workplace to identify tripping hazards, faulty equipment or other unsafe conditions that could lead to an injury.
  • Routinely review and update the workplace’s safety procedures in order to account for any changing conditions or new hazards. Encourage employees to participate in this process by providing feedback about their safety concerns and observations.

Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. for additional risk management guidance and resources.

Article Published By:

Article Written By: Brittney Meredith-Miller 

Author: CMR

Leave a Reply