How to Deal with Unsafe Working Environments When You’re Self-Employed

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Specific workplaces have more apparent risks involved. If you’re working on a construction site every day, you might be more likely to sustain an injury, but there is still a chance of accidents even when you work from home. Being self-employed means that you are liable for assessing and mitigating risks while working and dealing with accidents when they happen.

Being self-employed means making sure you cover yourself in the case of a workplace injury. Even if you are contracted by a larger company to work, workers’ compensation will not cover you. So, how can you deal with unsafe working environments and prepare yourself in case an accident occurs?

How can you identify an unsafe working environment?

Being self-employed, you are in charge of identifying if a work environment is safe. Depending on your occupation, your work environment could be a variety of places. You may work from a home office, a co-working space, painting houses, landscaping, and selling jewelry at a local market. Wherever you work, you must recognize safety risks and attempt to mitigate them in any way possible. Here are some common hazards that make a working environment unsafe:

– Slippery floors

– Bad lighting

– Trailing extension cords

– Lack of safety gear (masks, hard hats)

– Blocked exits

– Unsanitary environment

– Lack of functioning warning systems (broken fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector)

– Using equipment for the wrong purpose

– Unsecure chemicals

These are all examples of hazards that contribute to an unsafe workplace. Being self-employed, it’s your responsibility to ensure you have all the proper equipment and take the necessary steps to ensure you are safe while you work. If a larger company contracts you, you should follow all of their safety protocols while in the workplace. If you notice any potential hazards or risks, working conditions should be reported to whoever is in charge.

How to protect yourself when you’re self-employed

Even when you take every measure to reduce hazards, accidents can still occur. Being self-employed, you must have proper coverage to protect you in the case of an accident. While you may have personal health insurance that will cover medical expenses, you need to consider the financial impacts of being injured. You might not be able to run your business for some time if you’re hurt, and therefore you require the following types of coverage:

Disability insurance

Disability insurance will cover a portion of your regular income if you are unable to work due to an injury. It will allow you to keep your business afloat while you recover, ensuring you don’t go out of business.

Workers compensation

Just as a standard employer pays into workers’ compensation, you should also have a workers’ compensation policy for your business. In some states, it is optional for self-employed people to obtain a workers’ compensation policy, and many only pay into it if they would in a hazardous industry. That said, it’s definitely worth the investment as you can make a claim against it if you are injured while working. Not only will it cover medical expenses but also a good portion of your lost income.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, and Yahoo Small Business.