The Duty to Care

The Duty to Care

As an employer, you have a duty to your employees, the biggest of which is to care. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t always and if you shirk your duty, you can find yourself in a heap of trouble if an injury suit comes up.

Things to Care About
There is a list of legal principles to which employers should adhere, that make up their duty to care. These include:

  • Identifying employee health risks
  • Preventing foreseeable harm to employees that is caused by work
  • Considering your employees’ impairments — physical or mental — that could affect their ability to work
  • Consulting with your employees on matters of health and safety

Legal Requirements
The laws says you should do certain things to protect your employees from aggravating existing health conditions or causing new ones. You should:

  • Examine the workplace and seek out possible risk
  • Look for sources of stress that could negatively impact your employees
  • Notice employees who appear to have workplace injuries that could have been prevented
  • Think about whether an employee’s disabilities will keep them from doing their job safely

But none of this means you should be breathing down your employees’ necks and wrapping them in bubble wrap. The law states that you can reasonably expect employees to physically handle normal work.

Taking Action
If harm is foreseeable, the law requires action. Foreseeable harm includes:

  • Unreasonable work demands
  • Higher than normal workload

You should also be aware of prolonged absences that could be a sign of stress or problems at an employee’s home that could be contributing to an unhealthy work environment.

Steps to Take
If there are conditions for which the law requires action, you have several options. These include:

  • Analyzing absences and turnover rates to identify stressed-out employees
  • Distributing and assessing employee surveys
  • Consulting with safety representatives
  • Creating focus groups to discuss workplace safety

Caring about your employees is nice, but it goes beyond providing cupcakes on someone’s birthday. You are also morally and legally obligated to care about their well-being and take corrective steps when things are amiss.but – even if doing these things in a reasonable fashion what will matter in the end is “can you prove you cared”? Without PROOF caring is merely an illusion.

-Steve Petty, Director of Risk Management

StevePettyPhotoCroppedWP Steve Petty joined the Insured Solutions team as Director of Risk Management in 2010. The lessons he has learned from thirty-five years in risk management formed a foundation for what is today a unique Workers’ Compensation program, generating exemplary results for employers.

Contact Steve at, (229) 207-0664.

Share This Post