Employers Liability: Reducing The Risk Of Your Business Being Sued

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Published: 17th August 2015
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If you run a business and employ any members of staff, you are probably already aware that you have certain legal responsibilities. You may also be aware that compensation claims are more common than they used to be.

One of the most common ways that a small business can fall into trouble is by being sued by an employee and if you want your business to be a success you need to be aware of the risks and mitigate them.

Fortunately, in this post we are going to give you a quick primer on what your responsibilities are and how you can keep your business and your employees safe:
What Is Liability & How Can You Limit It?

As an employer you have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to keep your employees safe in their workplace.

It goes without saying that some workplaces are necessarily more dangerous than others though. If you work in a factory you are probably more likely to be injured than someone who works in a nice clean office.

The key point is to ensure that your employees are not subjected to unnecessarily high risks
What Can Employees Sue For?

The most obvious thing that your employees might sue you for is any sort of accident that causes them an injury, and in this case the more severe the injury the more they might sue you for (all other things being equal).

But you should also be aware of more subtle disorders:

Things like RSI and other office type injuries are on the rise
Depression or mental trauma due to workplace bullying

Office Safety Considerations

Compared to warehouses and factories, offices are pretty safe places and as such your risks of being sued are probably much lower, but that doesn't mean that you don't need to think about such things.

Spending long hours working in an office and at a computer can lead to long term conditions that you might be sued for years down the line. You should do what you can now to keep your staff healthy and happy.

Here are a few ideas:

Give your staff regular breaks of at least 10 minutes every hour
Buy ergonomic desks, chairs and keyboards
Require staff to spend break time away from their PC
Give free eye tests once every 6-12 months

And above all else, make it known that you have a generous break policy, encourage your staff not to spend too long at their desk and even reward them for being more active.
Factory & Warehouse Considerations

Business that use machinery are of course much higher risk and there is always a chance of accidents happening. But again, it is your responsibility to make your premises as safe as possible so that if the worst does happen it is not your fault.

Fortunately, a lot of the law has an element of common sense and if you can show that you have done your best to minimize risks you should be ok. Although it is important that you are aware of any specific laws relating to things like:

Heavy lifting
Working at height
Working with chemicals
Etc…

If in doubt, consider hiring a health and safety expert to review your premises and alert you to any risks or areas where you have not taken sufficient precautions.

Typical things that can lead to injury and employer's liability might include:

Having insufficient signage or the wrong signage
Labels being damaged or missing
Faulty machinery or out-dated machinery
Insufficient training
Staff being asked to do jobs for which they are not trained

Is Your Business Safe?

Unfortunately, there is always a risk that accidents will happen and as an employer (and a responsible person) you should always do your best to reduce the risks.

If you can show that you have been pro-active about keeping your employees safe, you should at least be able to reduce the risk to your business.

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