I was speaking to a group of aspiring young entrepreneurs recently, and I asked them to identify the qualities that they thought were important when launching a new venture. Creativity was the first trait mentioned, followed by innovation, intelligence, and courage. One wise young person observed that entrepreneurs “can’t work for anybody else; they need to be their own boss.”
As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve discovered one additional quality that becomes increasingly important as a startup grows: the ability to manage risk. Entrepreneurs must be willing to take smart risks, especially when moving into a new or highly competitive market. But they also need to minimize any unnecessary risks, especially in their workplace.
Workplace injury poses a real threat to the entrepreneur who hasn’t put proper safety measures in place. It’s a mistake to think, “It won’t happen here.” According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job in the U.S. every seven seconds, resulting in millions of work-related injuries per year. It’s also a mistake to think that these injuries happen only in a busy factory or plant. Data from OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies these as the 10 most common workplace injuries:
- Slip and fall
- Struck by a moving object
- Struck against a stationary object
- Repetitive motion injury
- Motor vehicle accident
- Fall from height
- Workplace violence
This list proves that there is a risk of workplace injury in operating a business of any size in any industry. So, how can a business owner ensure that this risk is correctly managed, and their workers protected?
In my book We are HR, I discuss the impact partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can have on your ability to manage worksite risk, especially if you are operating a small business. A PEO provides significant value to the small-business owner, including by administering payroll and payroll taxes, opening access to competitive benefits and insurance plans, and ensuring compliance with the myriad rules and regulations connected to HR management. But the area of safety and risk management is a critical benefit that comes when enlisting the expertise of a PEO.
A PEO operates essentially as a co-employer, so both the PEO and the small business have an employment relationship with the worker. Day-to-day supervision of employees remains in the hands of the small business, but the PEO assumes responsibility for the liability of the business of employment, including risk management.
When you partner with a PEO, the PEO immediately investigates and underwrites any potential exposure to risk. The PEO studies your risk profile, visits your worksite, and interviews key personnel. A PEO will help you develop an effective safety program based on the results of this research and ensure that you have the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance in place. PEOs typically have a lower-cost master workers’ compensation insurance policy, but getting this cost-effective coverage isn’t automatic. The PEO needs to be certain that adding a new business to their policy will not substantially increase their risk exposure, so they will first work with you to mitigate any potential areas of risk they discovered during their visit and research. It’s possible to put workers’ compensation insurance in place before this corrective action is completed, but that will typically be at a higher cost and in a separate carve-out policy written in the name of the business, rather than the PEO.
Outsourcing workplace safety oversight and risk management is a strategic investment that every small business owner should consider. Regulations governing workplace safety change in response to new data and new threats. It’s vital to make sure that your small business complies, and that you, your business, and your employees are protected.
Safety should be a priority for every small business owner. There’s no excuse for a slip in ensuring proper protection.