When launching a new startup company, there are a number of nuances to examine — not the least of which is the health and safety of your employees, which can sometimes be overlooked during the busy launch of an enterprise. However, failing to look out for the health and safety of your workers is effectively setting up your company for failure from the very start.
Assess Your Location
The very first thing to do before launching your new business is to find the ideal location. As any good real estate agent will tell you, location is everything. For starters, make sure the community you’re in is business-friendly. There’s nothing worse than launching your new enterprise only to face resistance from the local community. Not only can this damage the reputation of your brand right from the start, but it can doom your entire business model.
You’ll also want to take a look at the physical locations of your biggest competitors. On one hand, you’ll want to be close enough to your competition to gain exposure in the market. However, if your competitor’s business is better than yours, you may find yourself closing your doors sooner rather than later.
It’s also important to make sure your employees will have direct access to healthcare and emergency services within the immediate area. It’s difficult to maintain a focus on safety when your workers don’t even have access to treatment services when needed.
Next, take some time to assess and minimize some of the more significant risks associated with your business, the consumer market and your industry in general. Some risks, particularly those that pose an immediate threat to the health or safety of your workers, should be corrected before you even open your doors. Subpar lighting, tripping hazards and even a lack of proper warning signs and labels can all result in workplace injuries and, as a result, potential legal issues.
In order to circumvent such issues, make sure any potential hazards are cleaned up, fixed or otherwise taken care of before inviting your employees into the building. A little bit of diligence at the beginning of your launch can prevent a lot of headache and trouble down the road.
Budgeting With Safety in Mind
You’ll also want to establish a safety-conscious budget for your new startup company. Make sure to factor in any costs associated with OSHA compliance, including any potential legal fees. JBS USA, for example, was recently fined nearly $40,000 for failing to prevent a recent workplace fatality. Despite the fact that this fine was slightly larger than most, many people still believe it wasn’t enough to make up for the loss of a human life.
However, it’s important to note that OSHA has increased these penalties as of August 2016. Under the new structure, the maximum penalty for serious issues or a failure to abate will increase from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation. Additionally, the penalty for failure to abate increases by a maximum amount of $12,741 for every day past the abatement. Penalties for willful or repeated violations was also increased from $70,000 to $124,709 per individual violation.
Legal fines and penalties aside, OSHA is actively taking other steps to try and ostracize employers who don’t take a proactive stance toward workplace safety. In JBS’ case, the company was also placed on a list of enterprises that have “demonstrated indifference” toward federal safety standards. Known as the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, the list is free for public consumption.
With this in mind, it’s important to account for any potential fines when establishing your startup budget. If possible, try to differentiate between one-time costs and fees that are commonly required when opening a new business and recurring fees such as building rent, insurance and payroll and variable fees, which includes shipping and transportation costs, taxes and even commission on sales. This will help you allocate the necessary funds more effectively.
Achieving & Maintaining Safety
There is a lot to consider when it comes to establishing and achieving safety within a newly launched workplace. However, as most owners soon find out, the long-term process of maintaining safety is much easier when you have a solid foundation of safety awareness and a clear protocol regarding the safe use of equipment.