Safety compliance is easily overlooked in the passionate reach for business success.
Congratulations you’ve got your bakery business up and running!
You’ve put pictures of your salted caramel cupcakes on Pinterest. People are Instagramming your artisan bread and life is good.
You are starting to get regular customers and the business is enough of a success that you have decided to employ an apprentice and invest in some more equipment. You found a second commercial dough mixer on Gumtree – it doesn’t have a guard but you can get one next month (it only costs about $600).
You’ve put pictures of your salted caramel cupcakes on Pinterest, people are Instagramming your artisan bread and life is good. You are starting to get regular customers and the business is enough of a success that you have decided to employ an apprentice and invest in some more equipment. You found a second commercial dough mixer on Gumtree – it doesn’t have a guard but you can get one next month (it only costs about $600).
It’s a busy Friday and you hear a scream from the kitchen. Rushing in you to find your new apprentice clutching his upper arm which is swelling rapidly. He manages to tell you that he had stopped the motor on the dough mixer but had put his hand in before the spiral mixer had stopped turning and the attachment drew his arm in, trapping and twisting it as he tried to pull it out.
Your employee has an open fracture of his upper arm and will require surgery and hospitalisation. There’s no chance that he will be back to work for a number of months.
After the Incident
First things first – you have to notify WorkSafe. It’s a particular type of notifiable injury and WorkSafe inspector will investigate the incident. Luckily you have workers’ compensation, right?
What you don’t know is that your premium is just about to increase by around $25,000 for the next three years depending on the cost of medical, wages and rehabilitation and whether your employee sues you for negligence.
Combined with the indirect costs of the injury – getting someone in and trained to replace your apprentice, the costs of non-production, loss of reputation, purchasing a guard for the dough mixer and a number of other factors, the incident has just cost you around $150,000.
What happens next?
Oh yes, and WorkSafe are going to prosecute you so you can add another $10,000 in fines and legal costs. Why? Because you can’t assure them that basic hazard identification and risk assessment processes exist in your business.
- How do you make sure that the equipment you purchase is safe?
- What are your regular workplace inspection processes?
- Was there a safe operating procedure for mixing dough?
- Was the safe operating procedure communicated?
- What are your induction and training processes?
- What are your emergency procedures?
In the above example the business may not recover from this mistake. Without any intention of causing anyone harm this business owner has probably created more of a financial burden than a new business can support. And importantly, a young worker was seriously injured and in all probability physically and psychologically impaired by the incident.
Protect Your Passion
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of opening a business especially if you have a passion for what you do. Regrettably, the costs of not having a safety compliance plan and some basic procedures can cost you your dream business in the blink of an eye.
Having some advice from an expert before you start trading and having regular compliance checks can give you peace of mind and let you concentrate on what you do best.