20 Ways To Keep Your Company Safe From Employee Negligence & Mistakes
Employees can make costly mistakes and it’s very important to minimize these.
Nobody likes to hear about an on-duty accident at the factory, site or office. It is basically what managers pray against every morning when they wake up. The lawsuits, policy changes and compensation fees that follow such incidents can be financially wrecking for any business.
Luckily, there are some cues you can take to avoid such incidents. They are not 100% guaranteed to stop any form of accidents in your place of business, however, they can help to reduce the risk by at least 60%. This is better than having your work site 100% susceptible to accidents.
Similarly, having a certain level of trust with employees is important – nobody likes a paranoid boss, but everyone loves a great boss. Nevertheless, your employees can be a security risk. It has been known for employees to leak sensitive information or go against work ethics.
That said, it is important to take certain precautions. To make sure that you can trust your employees, there are certain measures that you should take.
1. Keep some information private
Some company information may exist that you may not want to share with all employees. This could include access to your company bank account.
Unless you’re hiring them to handle your company’s finances, giving out information like login details could be dangerous.
There could also be passwords to certain information that you don’t feel new recruits should see yet. Only those that are directly in charge of the password-protected items should have such private and confidential information.
The first lecture I was given when I attended a workshop practice for the first time in college was an orientation lecture. The lecturer went out of his way to even demonstrate with illustrations, things that could go wrong in an engineering workshop.
I do believe this same energy should be maintained when giving your workers a tour of your company building, facility or construction site. Tell them why they should never come into the facility without safety boots and goggles.
If possible, give examples of incidents that might have happened somewhere else and don’t be afraid to discuss the consequences of carelessness while on duty. The goal is to make sure you instil that awareness in them. A few stories of fatal cases might stick to brains faster.
3. Appoint Supervisors
Supervisors are like babysitters, they are supposed to manage onsite operations and guide workers on proper protocols to follow. If you really want to reduce the risk of an accident as a result of employee negligence, it is important to let someone oversee the affairs of places you can’t check out yourself.
Mind you, these persons must be diligent and experienced. Someone who has spent years in the supposed industry and has garnered enough experience to guide newbies on what to do to avoid unfortunate incidents.
Accountability is usually another trait you want in your supervisor. Ensure this is someone who can take responsibility for the things that happen under their watch rather than allocate blames to others.
4. Provide The Necessary Safety Equipment
According to my sister who is a lawyer – if a company provides the necessary equipment for workers safety, and create the kind of awareness I talked about previously and the worker then refuses to wear them, the company isn’t liable.
However, if the company in question doesn’t provide the necessary safety gears for their workers and they do a two months seminar on safety, they will be held liable for any employee accident within their premises.
I understand that most times accidents occur in workplaces are as a result of employee negligence, however, you can actually take some steps to minimize the effects on your company. You could lose millions as compensation for injury.
There are so many true life stories of ridiculous compensation claims from employees or their families for workplace accidents. Don’t wait for your employee to become a victim before you take necessary steps.
5. Fine Staff For Negligence
I feel this is very important to reduce the rate of employee negligence in the workplace. When you start fining staff members for negligence or you start attaching certain punishments to carelessness, it is only normal for others to sit up.
I know it sounds ridiculous to help workers protect their own lives by ging them fines but your company has a lot to lose if a major accident happens due to employee negligence. For one, your business name will be ultimately ruined as one that recorded a fatality. Therefore, do everything to protect your employees and your company’s name as well.
6. Conduct Drills
This is used by even the military to prepare their staff for similar scenarios. Many pharmaceutical companies and essential service providers use drills to prepare their staff. Drills are like plays to help workers get accustomed to safety measures. When conducted properly, they can make safety second nature for staff.
I have actually been on a naval warship when a drill was initiated. All naval officers were immediately summoned to their posts and visitors were taken to another part of the ship – a safer part.
You can arrange for fire drills to be conducted at your workplace, seeing that it is one of the common workplace hazards. You could also conduct other types of drills depending on which hazard you figure your company is more vulnerable to.
7. Teach Workers How to Operate Machines Properly
If you get an oven and you do not teach your children how to use it, you might end up getting your house on fire. In that case, it is not negligence on your children’s part but yours because you failed to teach them how to use it.
If you do not want anybody using an appliance except you, then make it clear from the start and don’t allow any other person use it. However, if you won’t be available for a while and might hand over to someone else, you need to teach them how to use it plus safety measures attached to its usage.
Similarly in the workplace, do not assume that everyone knows how to use all the machines. Create time to train and retrain to be sure everyone is on the same page.
My mom almost used a stainless metal plate in the microwave until I stopped and corrected her. Imagine all the things that could have gone wrong if I wasn’t there to caution her. This is why you must orientate your staff with every single machinery in the site/office beforehand to prevent mistakes and possible negligence.
8. Conduct Routine Safety Checks
This could be a monthly, weekly or bi-annual routine safety checks depending on expert advice as regards your kind of company and how vulnerable your business is to hazards. If you manage a gas plant, I think a daily routine check would be ideal. However, you manage a newspaper press, a bi-annual safety check of the building and electrical connections may be enough.
So in the end, it all depends on the type of business you run and manage. Nonetheless, even if you own a candy store, you should conduct this fire hazard checks like clearing anything that might block a fire escape route, checking electrical connections to avoid power outage problems and refilling or replacing your extinguishers.
Remember, a stitch in time save nine. Do not wait to learn from your own misfortune when you can learn from others.
9. Paste Notices
If an elevator is no longer functional, do not just leave it and assume everyone will get to know. Paste a notice – a very bold one to stir people away from using it. Most workplace accidents are usually unfortunate incidents that could easily have been avoided.
If a stairway is bad, put a notice there to let people know and direct them to use other alternatives. Janitors should also make sure they put the wet ground sign up to let employees tread carefully when cleaning.
Notices can also spare your company some very tough lawsuits. I read somewhere about a company that had a faulty chair but didn’t put up a sign to discourage someone from sitting there. A worker sat on that particular chair and it broke instantly, causing him to have a fractured femur and dislocated shoulder.
The company was made to pay 200,000 dollars for hospital bills, and another 50,000 dollars as compensation. This kind of compensation can ultimately make a big business broke.
10. Be Deliberate About Safety
Don’t just provide safety equipment and gears, practise what you preach and lead by example. If you visit the site often, make sure you also wear the complete gear and not just a few of them. Some architects still visit construction sites without wearing a helmet.
In fact, some of them wear working shoes to construction sites – can you believe that? It should only be normal for the workers to practice what they teach or see their superiors doing.
Try as much as possible to lead by example because despite what you might think, there are people watching you to know if you will also practise what you preach.
11. Seek Expert Advice
There is a limit to your ability even as a manager. Sometimes, even though it will cost your business money, you need to get advice from an expert on safety who will educate you on how to secure some state-of the-art equipment that will reduce risk as much as possible.
It is not enough to keep giving safety tips. Sometimes, what you actually need is a repair or replacement of your old or outdated machines. An expert can make the work easier.
13. Research And Update Policies
There are ever-changing safety policies that can be implemented to reduce the risk of employee accidents in your workplace. Make sure to always check for new government policies on safety so you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the sword of law.
Don’t be found using a safety policy that had been changed decades ago. The state and federal government usually create certain laws to checkmate petrol stations, especially the ones situated in or around residential buildings.
Protect your business name from a potentially hazardous incident that might cause your business to be shut down by the government permanently for violating certain safety laws and policies.
14. Get Quality Materials
Fake products are cheap when they are bought, however, they usually end up causing so much damage in the future that might eventually even cost more than the original product.
Do not settle for anything that is below standard no matter the price difference. I get that you might be tempted to get cheaper safety materials or cheaper electrical materials for the connections at your workplace, but fire hazards can occur as a result of bad wiring or poor electrical connections.
So many buildings collapse in Nigeria and all over the world as a result of substandard building materials. Last year, a primary school collapsed in Lagos State, Nigeria, and a lot of children perished as a result of substandard building materials according to FEMA.
15. Consider forms of monitoring/surveillance
Monitoring and surveillance can be another way to ensure trust in your employees. You do have to be too careful though. Too much monitoring and surveillance could turn your workplace into a Big Brother dictatorship.
This could create a negative environment for employees who may feel they are not trustworthy. Using certain forms of surveillance without notifying employees could even be illegal.
A few forms of monitoring and surveillance could include CCTV, regular progress checks or recorded phone calls. Some of these forms of surveillance and monitoring can also be used to check whether customers. It tells you whether they are behaving properly and they this could benefit your employees.
Many of the best companies have these measures in place but don’t overuse them. Constant progress checks could be seen as micromanaging. Constantly watching CCTV footage could also make employees feel you’re spying on them. You’re much better off occasionally running progress checks or checking CCTV only when you suspect an issue.
16. Act on Feedback
I hinted at this previously, however, I would like to throw more light on it. Creating room for your staff to speak up will greatly help to reduce the risk of accidents as a result of negligence. For instance, when you do not change a faulty extension socket that a department has been complaining about, someone might one day get electrocuted.
Your company would be blamed because a notice was sent from the department which was received by you beforehand. Take reports like this very seriously. Anything that is broken or faulty and can pose a threat to employee health in the workplace. Make sure you go out of your way to get it fixed or replaced.
17. Do background checks when hiring
Background checks are one of the best ways to ensure your employees are trustworthy. This should be done at the initial recruitment stage – if possible before hiring them.
A background check could include looking into any past criminal convictions, checking references and doing a credit check. There are also programs such as checkr that provide all the tools needed to do background checks.
You can then decide whether you trust employees based on the results. Certain criminal convictions, refusal to offer references or bad credit score could be a reason not to trust an employee.
18. Get employees to sign a contract
A contract allows you to put the terms of employment in writing. By signing this, they formally agree to these terms. Without a contract, employees may be in their right to refuse certain tasks.
They can choose to leave without notice whilst still demanding payment for the month. It leaves you more open to lawsuits from employees – who may or may not be in the wrong.
Hiring a professional legal writer could ensure that your contract is legally tight. Contracts can also benefit your employees and many may trust you more by knowing they have an official employment contract.
19. Provide thorough training
Training is important to ensure that your employees are competent at their job. Too many companies don’t provide adequate training, which leads to a higher risk of mistakes.
You should offer training to all new recruits. Those with previous experience in the role may still benefit from some training for health and safety purposes and to familiarise them with company methods that may be different to other businesses.
You should also consider refresher training for older employees if you feel that they don’t carry out certain protocols properly. This is also applicable if your company goes through a big change.
20. Insure your company
Even with training, human error is inevitable. The best way to stop this being a costly expense is to take out insurance that protects you against employee negligence.
This could be public liability insurance (which protects against injury-based lawsuits and premises liability). It could also be a professional indemnity insurance (which can protect against other forms of negligence).
This ensures that if your employees make a mistake which causes you to be sued, you are then able to pay the legal compensation that is due.
Sometimes employees can be careless and they may also be vulnerable to some risks in the workplace. The goal is to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring, and also to make sure your business isn’t completely a victim to lawsuits when such things happen.
To achieve this goal, you must start to observe safety laws as stipulated by the government, and also educate your workers on the importance of safety practices while working.
Has your company been a victim of employee negligence? With these tips, you’ll be on a safe side.