Workplaces pose a host of different threats to employees, depending on the circumstances of each one. Lawsuits regarding workplace safety are some of the most common when conducting business. If such a lawsuit has any basis, then a company can end up paying a lot of money to the aggrieved party. Implementing workplace health and safety laws is one way to prevent that from happening. In Australia for example, the Work Health and Safety Act is responsible for the laws that protect workers during operations. Any person conducting business or an undertaking has the duty of implementing these regulations. Work safety rules apply across all sectors.
Note that as much as employers are responsible for safety, workers also have a duty of reasonable care. What this means is that employees must exercise some standard of care when going about their duties. In a workplace accident case, all parties must look at the roles that an employee plays. A worker must do what a reasonable person would do in a similar situation. Elements such as the skills, qualifications, information available, and knowledge all apply when reviewing reasonable care.
An organisation is supposed to assess the threats that workers have to deal with and implement measures to mitigate them. Undoubtedly, initiating safe work practices and keeping premises safe can be costly but there are benefits to it. What is the importance of ensuring worker safety laws and liabilities are in place?
Save on Expenses
Cases involving workplace injuries can get very expensive very fast, especially when a lawsuit has to go to trial. Accidents and injuries at the workplace take many forms, and some of them can be severe, even fatal. The severity of the injuries usually dictates the worker’s compensation that a company is responsible for. You can reduce these risks by adhering to the highest safety standards.
Incorporating workplace safety rules is an excellent way of improving the productivity of employees. An unsafe work environment interferes with the physical capabilities and roles of worker’s, leading to inefficiencies. When workers don’t have to keep worrying about a machine causing injuries or suffering injuries due to unsafe equipment, they can concentrate on doing their jobs and maximising output. Ensuring that every worker has the right environment to reach their full potential shows that you care.
Some workplaces such as chemical factories, industrial manufacturing plants, and mining camps are inherently more hazardous than others. In Australia, the transport and storage sector has the highest number of workplace injuries with pedestrians, forklift operators, and makeshift platforms being the top three hazards. In 2012, a forklift driver for one of Australia’s top paper manufacturer died when the front-end loader reversed and caught him. There years later, the company was fined $400,000 for failing to ensure the safety of the employee. Even with the natural working environment being a harsh one, implementing workplace safety regulations can keep injuries and illnesses minimal. It may be hard to conduct your mining operations when everyone knows that your sites are unsafe. Workplaces that require the use of forklifts can assess the risks of with such machinery and incorporate the necessary safety measures to reduce injury cases.
Adhere to Regulations
Businesses have to deal with the risks of injuries, in one form or another. You may think that because yours is a simple office space, nothing could happen and then an employee trips on a flight of stairs at night because one of the light bulbs burnt out and no one replaced it. A business owner has the legal mandate to ensure that safety requirements are met in adherence to the established laws. Having safety standards up to par ensures that you meet that legal obligation.
Workers who don’t feel safe in a particular working environment can have poor productivity or leave altogether. It is not new to hear of a company losing employees because of “unsafe, deplorable, inhumane” working conditions. As an organisation, poor retention of employees comes with added costs. Imagine the costs of recruiting and training top talent only to have them leave at a moment’s notice. In the end, you spend more money than you would have when implementing safe working standards. A good example of this is Chilean Mining Accident and it's influence on vast improvements in miner's safety that followed in Chile afterwards.
Workplace health and safety laws & liabilities are critical to any operations. Employers and employees should do the necessary to ensure their implementation.