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Employee Life Cycle Part 6: Workplace Safety

Paychex HR consultant Margie Bassford takes a look at safety in the workplace, and how effective safety programs can help prevent penalties from disrupting your finances.


Discover more about the employee life cycle:

Part 1: Paying Employees

Part 2: Proper Employee Documentation

Part 3: Human Rights & Discrimination Laws

Part 4: Paid Time Off

Part 5: Employee Behavior & Performance

Part 7: Employee Handbook Policy

Part 8: Employee Discipline & Termination

Part 9: Attracting & Retaining Talent

Part 10: Deepening Employee Engagement


When it comes to your employees, you are legally obligated to provide them with a safe work environment. But it takes more than just saying you're committed to safety in order to actually have a safe workplace. And even if you have good safety programs on paper, with manuals, forms, trainings, and meetings, these activities may not lower your employee accident frequency or workers’ compensation insurance costs. You have to put actions behind your words, and don't wait for a serious injury or a safety visit to put the focus back on safety. It should always be a focus. Never be complacent when it comes to your employees' safety at work. Cultivate a culture of safety, where both management and employees are aware of and involved in the day-to-day safety operations of the company.

A conversation about safety in the workplace can't happen without mentioning OSHA. That's the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor that provides guidelines for workplace health and safety as well as enforces safety regulations, in order to protect workers through the inspection of workplace environments and to ensure employers comply with a series of safety and health standards. These requirements typically include workplace safety and health management actions, such as identifying and eliminating workplace hazards; taking all measures possible to protect employees from illness or injury; and making safety expectations clear by educating employees on workplace health and safety measures.

It's worth noting that sometimes simple inexpensive fixes can resolve a potentially dangerous and costly issue down the road, such as lighting a dark stairwell. OSHA also gives no warning before they call or visit your business. And if they find anything wrong, noncompliance penalties can add up fast, especially if they find that your business has willfully violated OSHA regulations.

That's why a safety program that is in place and up-to-date can help prevent surprise penalties from disrupting your finances. You may also consider using an experienced and knowledgeable safety and loss control representative to help with your compliance and training needs. It also can't be stressed enough that safety rules should be implemented and followed by all employees at every level of the organization. Management sets the example for employees. If you follow the rules, they will, too.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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