Worker Safety is Top Risk Concern for Small Businesses

First, a bit of good news for the millions of Americans who work for small businesses: Employee safety at work is a top concern for small business owners, according to a survey sponsored by EMPLOYERS a provider of small business workers' compensation insurance.

Workplace safety risks were cited as the source of greatest worry and the area where small business owners expect to dedicate most of their attention this year, more than professional liability risks, cyber-security risks, natural disaster risks and terrorism risks.

“Small business owners realize they have to protect their most valuable assets – their employees,” said EMPLOYERS Chief Operating Officer Stephen V. Festa. “Employee injuries can carry a significant cost, not only in terms of medical and workers’ compensation expenses, but also in terms of lost productivity and potentially lower workplace morale.”

Which one of the following risks do you worry about most potentially impacting your business?

Risk     EMPLOYERS Survey
Workplace safety risks     35%
Professional liability risks     26%
Cyber-security risks     25%
Natural disaster risks     10%
Terrorism risks     0.2%
       

Which one of the following types of risks do you expect to spend the most time addressing in 2014?

Risk     EMPLOYERS Survey
Workplace safety     35%
Professional liability     24%
Cyber-security     23%
Natural disasters     11%
Terrorism     1%
       

“We wanted to see how prepared small business owners believe they are for the types of injuries that are most common in the workplace, or if they were placing too much emphasis on events that are unlikely to occur,” Festa said. “We were relieved to find that the most common type of injuries – slips, trips and falls – was cited most often. However, we were surprised that almost four out of five small business owners did not claim to be most prepared for them.”

Slips, trips and falls account for nearly a quarter of all nonfatal workplace injuries1 and 15 percent of all fatal workplace injuries2 that occur in the private sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other common causes of workplace injuries that small business owners said they are prepared to handle include motor vehicle accidents (12 percent) and employees coming into harmful contact with objects and equipment (12 percent).

Small business owners felt least prepared to address acts of violence or fires or explosions that occur at the workplace.

More results from the survey:

For which one of the following workplace risks is your business most prepared?

            Event / Exposure     Event / Exposure
Event or Exposure     EMPLOYERS    

% of all nonfatal

    % of all fatal
      Survey    

injuries / illnesses(1)

    injuries / illnesses(2)
Slips, trips, falls     21%     24%     15%
Motor vehicle accident     12%     5%     41%
Contact w/ objects & equipment     12%     25%     16%
Sprains, strains, tears     10%     -     -
Fire / explosion     8%     0.2%     3%
Repetitive motion injury     7%     3%     0%
Exposure to harmful substance or environment     7%     4%     7%
Act of violence     4%     4%     17%
                   

For which one of the following workplace risks is your business least prepared?

            Event / Exposure     Event / Exposure
Event or Exposure     EMPLOYERS    

% of all nonfatal

    % of all fatal
      Survey    

injuries / illnesses(1)

    injuries / illnesses(2)
Act of violence     29%     4%     17%
Fire / explosion     17%     0.2%     3%
Motor vehicle accident     13%     5%     41%
Exposure to harmful substance or environment     12%     4%     7%
Repetitive motion injury     6%     3%     0%
Slips, trips, falls     5%     24%     15%
Sprains, strains, tears     4%     -     -
Contact w/ objects & equipment     3%     25%     16%

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