State and national occupational safety administrations set the rules that business owners must follow to help keep workers safe. The Jackson, Mississippi OSHA Area Office manages worker safety issues and complaints. Businesses that do not adhere to OSHA guidelines can be found liable for negligence in addition to their financial responsibilities for employee injury. Sound safety procedures and the right personal protective equipment go a long way to making sure small businesses are protected from liability, and mandatory workers' compensation programs cover the costs when employees are injured.
Both federal and state labor boards have the power to enact penalties against companies that do not meet safety standards. These penalties can include fines, sanctions, or even criminal liability. Additionally, small businesses and their owners face liability for injury outside of the scope of regular insurance. Workers often consult a personal injury attorney to determine if this is the case before filing for workers' compensation benefits.
One of the best ways to avoid liability for failure to meet OSHA standards is to build in the safety procedures that make sure employees at all levels understand and take responsibility for safety. That means training workers in the relevant safety processes, including the use of the appropriate PPE for various jobs and the location of first aid kits. It also means making sure PPE is well-stocked and that it meets or exceeds the requirements spelled out by state and national labor laws.
Training and supplies are both important, but a company’s leadership should know that when an emergency happens they must be ready to automatically spring into action. Also, when safety concerns are raised by employees, the company’s owners should address them immediately. If team leaders and shift supervisors know they can make things safer for their workers if they have support from the owners and upper management, it's easier for them to take steps to do so.
Companies in Mississippi already take responsibility for the medical costs related to workplace injury through state mandated workers' compensation programs, but if they are found liable or negligent, additional costs and penalties may apply. It's important that small business owners learn how to fully protect themselves from the financial losses associated with liability claims.