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Accidents in business can be costly, especially if they harm a customer in some way. This could involve physical harm to a customer, damage to their property or even financial damage. Such mistakes are known legally as ‘negligence’. An act of negligence could result in lawsuits from the customers involved.
It can also attract negative media attention, either from a news outlet or on social media, causing a company to potentially lose business. In serious cases, a single act of negligence can bring down a company.
Here’s how you can safeguard your business against the threat of such a disaster.
Train your employees
The simplest way of preventing negligence is to thoroughly train your employees. Having rules and protocols in place that employees have to follow can prevent errors from being made. On top of training employees in person, it can be handy to have a handbook that employees can refer back to when it comes to certain procedures.
Some employers even pay to put employees through courses when it comes to certain aspects such as fire safety or cybersecurity.
Improve your hiring process
Of course, thorough training is no use if you’re hiring the wrong people for the job. Certain employees may be more prone to malpractice if they have a bad employment history. Background checks can help to flag up danger signs of bad employees that may have been fired for gross misconduct which may itself be a case of negligence.
A trial shift can also be useful for identifying how applicants get on in the role before officially hiring them. If someone performs poorly in their trial shift and poses a risk of negligence, you may want to reconsider taking them on.
Improve health and safety
Being more health and safety conscious can prevent physical harm to customers and prevent lawsuits. Make sure that any dangers are removed or clearly signposted. Wet floor signs and labeling such as ‘contains nuts’ are examples of signposting. Make sure that your employees are aware of health and safety protocols.
There’s no use having a wet floor sign if your employees don’t take it out when mopping. You may be able to hire a health and safety advisor to help pinpoint areas that need to be improved. Installing extra health and safety features will cost you money but this could avoid you paying an expensive lawsuit in the long run.
On top of health and safety, it could be wise to improve security measures. If your clients have their property or private data stolen and it was your responsibility to keep it safe, you could be liable to a negligence lawsuit. Security measures worth implementing include upgrading your cybersecurity software or installing CCTV in your premises.
As with health and safety protocols, make sure that your employees know necessary security protocols. Many security measures are just as important for protecting you and your employees as they are for protecting your customers.
Get legal support
Every business owner needs a solicitor that they can call upon for guidance. Lawyers can especially come in handy in the case of a lawsuit as they may be able to help argue your case and reduce the amount of money demanded in a claim. Certain law firms may specialize in certain areas of trade such as retail or medical law.
It’s worth hiring lawyers that are knowledgeable within your trade as they are likely to give you the best guidance. A lawyer can also help you write legally tight contracts, which may also be able to defend you from claims of negligence. Such contracts could make clients aware of dangers before signing up.
Professional indemnity insurance can help to pay out money to clients in the event of a negligence lawsuit. In certain trades, such insurance may be compulsory as is the case with hospital medical malpractice. In other trades such as motor vehicle repair or handyman work, insurance may not be compulsory but could be recommended. Insurance rates can be affected by various factors.
Having lots of health and safety and security protocols in place may encourage an insurance underwriter to put you on a low rate due to the low risk of a claim. Certain trades may be naturally higher risk and such financial consultancy and building surveying. There are specialist insurance companies out there related to these trades that may be able to insure you for less. It’s always worth shopping around and collecting quotes.
Manage your reputation
An act of negligence could damage your reputation if news spreads of it to the public. Even if you’re able to afford legal claims made against you, a damaged reputation could still destroy your business by putting off customers from using your services. In such a situation, you may need to take steps to repair your reputation.
There are companies out that specialize in improving the online reputation of businesses through positive reviews and conversation. If the press are attacking you, you may be able to hire a PR company to try and increase your reputation by pitching positive news stories related to your business to outweigh the negative stories.