Building a business is one of the hardest – and most rewarding – things any entrepreneur can do. Having invested so much time and human capital, it would only be prudent to protect what you have built. With the ushering in of the festive season comes an abnormal influx of feet moving into and out of businesses at a rapid rate, increasing the risk of losses occurring; from legal liability for accidental physical damage to third party tangible property, to accidental death or bodily injury of customers while at your premises;  It is imperative for businesses to also protect themselves from traditional losses, such as fire and natural peril, by having effective risk management practices in place.  The unknown risk from these traditional losses or public liability exposures can be transferred to an insurer, such as Santam, with a customised business’s insurance policy. Company owners must speak to their brokers to get more information on a tailored Santam commercial policy. 

Businesses also run the risk of potential accidental injuries or death of employee(s), and it is critical that all business must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1994. The common law right to hold the employer liable was removed by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, No 130 of 1993 (COIDA). This Act provides for compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases. Philippa Wild, Head: Commercial Business at Santam, South Africa’s largest short-term insurer, which covers 86 of the top JSE companies, says the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1994 also provides workers with the right to health and safety in the workplace. 

To ensure a business complies with the employee and property safety regulations, Wild advises the following to narrow business and employee risk:

1. DO ensure the business has a process for health and safety that includes the identification and analysis of risks, risk controls and continuous evaluations to ensure that the wellbeing of employees is prioritized

2. DO NOT allow an employee to undertake work unless precautionary measures to protect the employee have been undertaken and enforced in the interests of health and safety of the employee

3. DO ensure a health and safety representative and committee is appointed to oversee health and safety matters if the business has more than 20 employees. The committee needs to meet every three months

4. DO NOT allow an employee to use machinery or products that can cause injury or death if they are not trained or competent to do so or are not being supervised by a person who is trained to understand the hazards associated with it

5. DO ensure all employees understand the hazards to their health and safety within the workplace – including machinery, articles or substances that are produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported – and the precautionary measures they must take with respect to these hazards

6. DO NOT forget to designate in writing, the company’s health and safety measures, representatives and committees

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COID) allows employees to claim if they are injured or contract a disease while working, training or completing an apprenticeship; the Act also allows family members to claim if they have lost a family member who died while at work from a work related incident or completing an apprenticeship.

However, not all businesses are equal. While it is important that every company, no matter how small, prioritises the health and safety of its workers and ensures the working environment protects both workers and shareholders’ interests, certain businesses need to implement safety protocols more stringently. Wild elaborates, “Companies that involve public access or provide services to the public and minors, or have a manufacturing component where machinery, physical conditions or substances can lead to potential sickness, injury or death, must ensure they adhere to the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993.”

Wild concludes, “It is important to note that having good risk management practices, safety training and education can influence business insurance premiums as they help reduce the frequency of claims and highlight a business owner’s intention of reducing their susceptibility to losses. This, in turn, helps the business get a better insurance premium. Most importantly, these measures protect the businesses’ most valuable asset – its people.”

This post is sponsored, paid for and supplied by Santam.