Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Safeguarding Your Home Business

You have probably passed big signs by construction sites that brag about how many days they have gone without a work related or lost time accident. For most businesses and industries, safety is an important part of their business plan as accident costs come straight off the bottom line. Not only do you pay an insurance premium to cover accidents, before the insurance starts paying, you will incur a deductible. The insurance premium and deductible comes from the bottom line, impacting your profits.

If you conduct business in your home office, the possibility of an injury claim increases dramatically with the number of customers. It is not all about the cost as if customers to your business seem to get hurt frequently, it can have a negative effect on your reputation. People may become fearful about visiting you for fear of getting hurt. Then there are those who will come see you, actually hoping to get hurt so they might end up owning your business.

Slip and fall accidents and trips are the most common for most businesses and a home business is not immune to these claims. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the potential for liability. Remember, just because a claim is filed, does not automatically make you and your insurance company responsible for the accident. Most states have laws that protect companies from lawsuits, by mandating that people have to take a certain amount of responsibility for their own actions.

During inclement weather, a company has 24 hours from the conclusion of an event before they are considered responsible for an accident involving a build up of snow and ice in their parking lots or on their sidewalks. If a customer slips on ice in the midst of a heavy winter storm, most courts find that they ventured out at their own risk and the business should not be responsible for their decision.

However, it is in your best interest to make sure you have the materials in place to remove the risk as soon as possible. Do not get caught up in the 24hour window as your customers should be important to you and allowing one of them to hurt because its only been 10hours since the snow stopped may protect you from liability but not from the wrath of the customer.

Most claims from accidents occurring inside your office space can be eliminated if you make sure spills and trip hazards are removed as soon as they happen. Allowing a spill to remain on the floor can be considered willful negligence, making you liable for any injuries that result. If you leave a hazard on the floor without properly warning your customers that a hazard exists, you will being paying the medical expenses for someone who tripped over the hazard.

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