Safety and Ergonomics in Maker Businesses


Gary with a panicked expression
I’m getting sued!!!!

Gary is worried about getting sued because a worker at his factory got injured!

Don’t be like Gary.  

If you’re a regular PCat reader, you know that Gary was an accountant who started a side business making baked goods.  And you also know that recently, Gary inherited some money from a rich uncle and has used it to scale his business!

Things were going great. But recently someone got injured on the production line – and Gary has no Environmental Health and Safety people at his company! He had thought this was something he could put off until the company was a little bigger.  (He also didn’t have a lawyer, ditto.)

But he does have a friend called Process Cat!

Let me in! Let me in!

Once inside, Gary proceeded to tell PCat what was wrong in a very mature and measured manner.

Someone got hurt and I don’t have a lawyer and I’m going to get sued and MY LIFE IS OVER!!!!

Calm down, Gary.  At least get up off the floor.

Gary made a mistake and needs to address it. But panicking isn’t going to help his situation! Luckily, Process Cat is able to get Gary to stand up and offers him this advice:

  • Get in touch with the employee and try to gauge whether or not they’re angry (and try to resolve the anger if they are!) A review article on medical malpractice lawsuits cites a large amount of evidence that anger is one of the main predictors of whether or not a patient will sue.  And this stands to reason: some people will sue just because they’re desperate for money, but a lot more will only sue when they want revenge. Process Cat thinks it’s reasonable to assume that this would be the case for employee-employer lawsuits as well.  
  • Do some research on lawyers and law firms in your area.  If this is the first time you’re thinking about contacting a lawyer, you probably don’t need an in-house corporate lawyer right now.  But you should have an idea of who you’ll call if you suddenly need representation or advice!
  • This injury is a clear indication that it’s time to start setting up something more formal for your Environmental Health and Safety compliance.  You do NOT want to put this off!  Tomorrow we can go to your factory and talk about your options…
But for tonight, just try to relax so you can face tomorrow with a clear head!

Weekly Challenge:

Be honest with yourself – are safety and ergonomics something you’ve been putting off a little too long?  Everyone’s at different stages in their business development. It’s entirely possible that you really don’t need to worry about this yet.  But you should err on the side of getting this stuff organized too soon rather than too late.  Come back next time and we’ll dive into the details.

M.G. Rhoads shares her deep engineering

through engaging stories that make manufacturing principles easy to use and understand.

“I show makers, inventors and entrepreneurs the secrets big companies use to run a successful manufacturing line!”

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