At Honan Workplace Risk, we’ve seen our fair share of claims arise from end of year work events. We have consulted with many clients, who simply were not aware their business is liable in the event of a staff member’s accident or injury while attending work events. Here are our tips for minimising risk exposure for your organisation.
Time & location does not matter
Even when a work event is scheduled out of hours or offsite, the business must uphold its duty of care and ensure a safe environment for all staff. Essentially this means if a member of staff is injured during a work-related event, they could pursue a workers’ compensation claim for any medical expenses or loss of income.
What are your risk exposures?
End of year celebrations can create conditions for two broad types of risk exposures: misconduct and physical injury. Overindulging and intoxication increases business exposure, which may give rise to misconduct or a physical injury. Any injury or allegation sustained during the work event is considered ‘throughout the course of employment’ and subsequent liability may be accepted.
What can you do?
While there are risks involved, there are actions you can take to reduce your business’ exposure.
Tip 1: communicate early and consistently with your workforce and set clear expectations about acceptable conduct. Your people reflect your brand, and unprofessional behaviour isn’t a great look.
Tip 2: if the event is offsite, remind leaders in advance that the venue is an extension of the workplace and the same behaviours and conduct are expected there. For example, encourage Managers to be accountable for their direct reports so any disrespectful or dangerous behaviour can be immediately addressed in line with your company policies.
Tip 3: appoint staff ‘supervisors’ to monitor behaviour during the event, particularly if alcohol is being served.
Tip 4: consider a ‘get home safe’ plan for staff. This could involve an Uber discount or hiring a minibus for the event. Exiting an event is often a time when people are exposed to a higher level of risk. Certain legislation extends to journeys to and from work, which could leave your business liable in the event of an injury.
It is important to reward your staff for their hard work and commitment throughout the year. However, incurring a workers’ compensation claim from poor supervision or inadequate planning can spoil the celebrations and reduce the likelihood of future events. Communicate your business expectations early and remind everyone to enjoy themselves without putting each other and the business at risk.