By Rieva Lesonsky

If there’s one thing you can predict about entrepreneurship, it’s that it’s unpredictable. In this special series sponsored by The Hartford, we’ll help you prepare for uncertainty, minimize risks and protect your business.

Are your employees at risk of workplace injury? That can have serious consequences not only for them, but also for your small business. When an employee is injured on the job, you’ll face challenges such as

  • Lost productivity from the absent worker
  • Time and expense of training a replacement
  • Costs of the employee’s injury-related medical care
  • The possibility of a lawsuit

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the three most common causes of workplace injuries are overexertion (such as lifting, pushing or pulling something too heavy), falls on level ground (such as slipping on a wet floor or tripping over an extension cord) and “bodily reaction” (such as climbing, bending or tripping but not falling).

If you think your workplace isn’t at risk, think again. Of course, some workplaces—such as construction sites, warehouses or manufacturing firms—are inherently more dangerous than others. But workplace injuries can happen in even the most sedentary fields. For instance, employees who work at a computer all day are subject to repetitive motion injuries from performing the same tasks over and over again. An employee at your accounting firm who slips on a wet break room floor can be injured just as severely as one who falls off a ladder in a warehouse.

Your responsibilities as an employer

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates and monitors workplace safety, setting standards that all employers must follow. Your state may also have its own workplace safety guidelines. Failing to follow these guidelines can result in citations and substantial fines.

Striving for a safe workplace shows employee that you care about their safety, improving your ability to attract and retain good workers. Here are some steps you can take to promote and maintain a safe workplace.

  • Assess the safety risks in your workplace and fix them.
  • Train employees in safety procedures to follow in performing their jobs and using equipment.
  • Provide protective equipment if needed.
  • Regularly inspect your workplace and equipment for safety violations.
  • Train employees at all levels to be alert for safety hazards and report them to management for correction.
  • Make sure your workplace is adequately staffed. Overworked, overtired employees are more likely to injure themselves or others on the job.

OSHA’s Small Business Assistance website has resources, information and guidance to help you develop a workplace safety program for your business. OSHA also has an On-Site Consultation Program that provides free, confidential safety and occupational health advice to small businesses nationwide.

How workers’ compensation insurance can help

No matter how careful you are, you can’t prevent accidents and injuries entirely. That’s why workers’ compensation insurance exists. Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical costs and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job so they can recover and get back to work. It also provides death benefits for employees who are killed on the job.

For employers, workers’ compensation also provides liability coverage to help protect the company in the case of lawsuits from injured workers’ .

Unlike many other types of insurance, workers’ compensation isn’t optional. In most states, it’s required by law for any business that has employees. Each state has different requirements; contact your state’s appropriate agency to learn more.

Rates for workers’  compensation insurance are calculated based on your annual payroll. The cost can vary widely depending on the state where you’re located, the type of work your employees do and any previous workers’ compensation claims history from your business. For example, a roofing company will pay higher premiums than an accounting firm will.

You can keep workers’ compensation premiums low by taking steps to maintain a safe workplace. If you get workers’ compensation insurance from The Hartford, you can also take advantage of the XactPAY option. Instead of calculating premiums based on payroll estimates, XactPAY uses actual payroll figures. This helps to ensure that you never overpay or underpay your premiums, so you don’t waste money or get hit with a premium adjustment at the end of the term.

Learn more about workers’ compensation insurance from The Hartford.


In partnership with The Hartford.

Employee injury stock photo By Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock