7 Hidden Safety Hazards to Remove in Your Small Business

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

When you run a business, you’re held to a higher standard. Consumers won’t tolerate potential safety risks in your shop the same way they would in your home.

For example, if your dog knocks over a broom in your home kitchen and the neighbor child trips over it, you’re not likely to be served a lawsuit. However, leaving a broom strewn in the aisle of a store is a justified personal injury lawsuit waiting to happen.

It’s imperative that you anticipate potential safety concerns before they become a full-blown accident. Consider these potential safety hazards that are hiding within your business.

1. Unknown Substances

You should know the names and purposes of every solid, liquid, or powder stored on your premises. Don’t trust your janitor to provide all the cleaning supplies, and don’t allow employees to bring unknown substances to work.

Chemicals can be extremely dangerous to employees and customers who don’t understand how to properly use them. Bottles can be flammable, the wrong mixtures can create poisonous gas, and certain cleaning supplies can cause chemical burns. Don’t take your chances with unknown substances.

2. Employee Sleep Deprivation

You might not have thought of it this way before, but employees who don’t get enough sleep are prone to creating safety hazards. They are more likely to make a mistake that could injure themselves and others.

You can’t control what your employees do when they go home, but you can control their working hours. Don’t overwork your team and provide regular breaks that allow employees to feel refreshed. Educate employees on the importance of staying awake and alert.

3. Repetitive Motion

Did you know that performing the same task repeatedly can lead to a muscle strain or injury? This is a common workers’ compensation claim in manufacturing plants where employees must do the same movements quickly and efficiently for hours on end. It can also happen with something as non-threatening as typing.

Offering regular breaks can help with this problem. You might also consider hiring an ergonomic specialist who can analyze a motion and determine a safer way to perform it for less damage.

4. Poor Housekeeping

There’s really no excuse for blocking fire exits with your clutter or littering aisles with trip hazards. These increase the risk for slip and fall accidents, or worse-an inability to exit during an actual emergency.

Train staff on the importance of keeping walkways clear of debris and clutter. Hire janitorial staff to keep things clean, mop up spills, and reduce the dangers of a dirty space.

5. Electrical Dangers

Electrical fires are responsible for nearly 50,000 house fires every year, and your business is not exempt from this problem. Faulty outlets and appliances, bad wiring, and improper electrical installation are sometimes the cause, but more often, electrical fires are the result of negligence.

For example, running cords under rugs increases the risk of the wires shorting out and catching the rug on fire. Misusing extension cords is another major fire hazard. Appliances should always be plugged directly into the wall outlet and never into an extension cord.

Remove any of these potential hazards and educate your employees on electrical safety. The risks are far too great to ignore this essential step.

6. Employee Sickness

Some team members are afraid to call in sick because they’ll miss an important presentation, they can’t afford to take time off, or they’re worried about their job security. Unfortunately, this means that sick people come to work all the time, spreading communicable illnesses and diseases to other employees and customers.

This may not seem like something that can be blamed on you, but if someone becomes seriously ill because of an employee’s sickness, you may be forced to pay their medical bills.

Encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick, and make it easy for them to do so. Post notices about washing hands in bathrooms and place automatic hand sanitizing stations around your business.

7. Employee Complacency

Even though your employees know the rules, they often become desensitized to the dangers. They perform the same tasks every day without harm, and they start to wonder if the rules are really that important. Before you know it, they’ve skipped a few steps in the safety protocols, and they find themselves and others injured as a result.

It’s crucial to keep a safety log and hold your employees accountable for completing it. Conduct regular surprise safety checks to keep employees on their toes and remind them about safety issues regularly. You can never be too careful when it comes to securing the wellbeing of your employees and customers.