A recent survey found that 35 percent of small-business owners are more concerned about workplace safety issues than they are about any of their other risks (including professional and cyber liability).
Perhaps this fear stems from the realization that employees are a small business’s most valuable assets. Not to mention, employee injuries can lead to an avalanche of medical bills and lost productivity. All it takes is a small slip, trip, or fall to put your employees out of commission.
Consider the following stats, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Slips, trips, and falls account for 15 percent of fatal workplace accidents and 25 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries.
- Transportation incidents cause 41 percent of work injuries.
- Equipment malfunctions account for 16 percent of incidents.
Between all these risks that put your employees in jeopardy, it’s no wonder that small-business owners are concerned about workplace safety. Luckily, that’s why Workers’ Compensation Insurance was created – to help employers address the cost of injured workers. (Read more about how this coverage works in our post “What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?”)
Though Workers’ Comp can’t prevent injuries from occurring, it does provide the funds to pay for employee medical bills, foregone wages, replacement staff, and more. Let’s look at the instances when you’ll need to purchase this versatile protection.
Is It Time to Purchase Workers’ Comp for Your Small Business?
Workers’ Compensation Insurance (aka “Workman’s Comp”) steps in when your insured employee suffers a work injury or illness. So long as the ailment is related to their work, your employees can receive the benefits your coverage entitles them to.
Though employers are wise to carry the coverage, it’s not just a savvy business move. Most states require employers to have a Workman’s Comp policy in force once they hire employees. The laws vary depending on where you live, but the majority of states mandate that you cover any full- or part-time employee.
Some exceptions apply. For example, Texas is the only state where Workers’ Comp is optional. Other states, such as Florida and South Carolina, require that you carry coverage once you have four employees. Many states exempt farm workers, domestic employees, and seasonal or casual workers from the mandate. (Learn what your state has on the books in our guide Workers’ Compensation Insurance Laws by State.)
In short, when you need Workers’ Comp is variable. We suggest that you…
- Check your state’s Workers’ Comp laws. You’ll need to find out your legal obligations, including which employees you must cover and how much coverage you need.
- Err on the side of caution. Even if you don’t have to offer Workers’ Comp benefits, you could still be held liable for your employees’ occupational injuries. Workers’ Comp coverage allows you to look after your employees and help avoid a lawsuit against your business.
If you have more questions about your Workers’ Comp options, feel free to talk to an insureon agent. They can help you make sense of your state’s laws and connect you with a policy that can fulfill your legal obligations.
To learn more about Workers' Comp costs, check out our Workers' Compensation Insurance Cost Analysis.
Creating a Safer Workplace
Workers’ Comp is a safety net when your best risk-prevention efforts aren’t enough. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to make a healthy and safe work environment for your employees. For example, you might…
- Conduct regular safety evaluations.
- Develop company-wide safety practices (e.g., zip-tying unruly computer cords, de-cluttering walkways, etc.).
- Train employees on safety awareness.
Remember, slips, trips, and falls can happen anywhere, even in “low-risk” industries. That’s why it’s important to make employees aware of these risks and do your best to prevent them when you can.
This post is part of an ongoing series on Workers’ Compensation Insurance and the high cost of occupational injuries. Stay tuned for more on how to handle work injury claims, adhere to state Workers’ Comp laws, and find affordable coverage!