Clumsiness is a source of levity in the workplace, and it has been so for years. After all, who doesn't enjoy the occasional laugh to break up a monotonous work day? Small business owners, that's who! For a small business owner, clumsiness is more costly than funny. Mistakes happen, but it doesn't take much to turn a minor mishap into a severe injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 3 million US workers suffered non-fatal injuries last year. The healthcare and construction industries account for most injuries, but accidents can happen anywhere. Therefore, companies of all sizes must have worker's compensation insurance.
Worker's Comp Explained
Worker's compensation laws are in place to ensure that an injured employee will be compensated for medical bills and lost wages. Although states differ on compensation rates, every state offers a form of these benefits.
- Medical coverage, including hospital stays, physical therapy and travel costs
- Lost income: Time away from work is paid if the employee is considered disabled
- Vocational rehab: If an employee cannot return to his or her original job after an injury, he or she will be put to work in a different field.
If you believe that your workers aren't vulnerable to workplace injuries, you may want to rethink that assumption. According to the BLS, private employers spent an average of just over $28 per hour for worker's comp in June 2011. Any of the below injuries can happen in any workplace, making it especially important for small business owners to have worker's compensation coverage.
Top Worker's Compensation Claims
- Slip and fall: If a worker slips and falls, it can lead to pulled muscles, sprains, fractures or stitches. Slip and fall injuries can be caused by damaged or wet flooring, or by debris.
- Handling-related injuries are often caused by actions such as pushing, carrying and lifting. Generally, it's difficult to know how heavy an item is until it is too late, and these injuries are common.
- Car accidents are the number one cause of work-related fatalities in the US. Truckers are at risk, but anyone driving to work is eligible for worker's comp in the event of an accident. Property damage isn't covered, but personal injuries would be.
- Equipment errors are prevalent, especially in construction. When equipment is used properly, work becomes more efficient; when used wrongly, serious injury and death can occur.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
Many worker's compensation claims can be prevented. A worker's compensation attorney would recommend that you take the time to inspect your workplace for dangers such as slippery flooring and exposed wiring, and hold a staff safety meeting to find ways to make the workplace safer. Your employees and your bottom line will thank you!
To learn more, contact a law firm like The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky.