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When Exercising Caution Is the Best Move For Your Business In workplace safety and in hiring decisions, caution is key.

By Gael O'Brien

This story appears in the September 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


Q: We passed all inspections, but I am concerned that a machine due for replacement in 18 months might pose a safety risk sooner than that. Ideally I'd replace it now, but money is tight; I plan to address the potential safety issue another way. No employee has expressed concern, and my legal and compliance obligations are met. So why do I keep worrying that I'm not doing right by my employees?

A: Operating ethically doesn't mean putting yourself through guilt trips. That said, when a gut feeling keeps nudging you, pay attention. It is a signal that you need to ask yourself more questions. Here are some to consider:

Can a reliable third party validate that your safety fix would work? Would you feel comfortable with your fix if a member of your family or an employee you've known for years operated the machine? What would the ramifications be if something went wrong and someone were injured—or worse? And, if you were to replace the machine sooner, are there any benefits that could offset the cost, possibly in productivity, efficiency or—even better—the value of letting employees know that their safety comes first?

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