of us tend to regard occupational safety and health programs as belonging to
the realm of human resources or personnel management. And while you have
experienced a corporate fire drill or received basic first aid training, it’s
doubtful that you’ve ever given much thought to what efforts your employer was
required to take, by law, to ensure that you and your colleagues were protected
from workplace hazards.
The reality is, there is little need to think about
the logistics of workplace health and safety – until you become a business
a small business owner, whether you operate a construction business, dry
cleaners, print shop, or just a regular nine-to-five office, providing workers
with a safe workplace is not only critical to the health of your employees and
the success of your business (recent government estimates place the business
cost associated with occupational injuries at close to $170 billion in company
profits) – it’s also the law.
“Under the provisions of the Occupational Safety and
Health Act of 1970, as the employer, you must provide a workplace free from
recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious
physical harm to your employees regardless of the size of your business. The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established to create
standards and regulations that implement the Act.”(www.business.gov)
are many guidelines and requirements mandated by the OSHA – too many to explain in one blog post. But,
below are some useful resources that the agency offers to small business owners
to help them understand what laws apply to them, how they can implement an
occupational health and safety plan, train employees, and stay compliant.
1. Getting Started – Pinpointing
the Requirements that Apply to You
OSHA has created a Web-based step-by-step occupational health and safety guide that can help you pinpoint the government requirements
that apply to your small business (including general industries, the
construction industry, and healthcare) as well as some of the other compliance
resources that the government offers to small businesses.
Consultations to Help you Assess and Fine Tune your Health and Safety Policies
of the genuinely helpful services offered by the OSHA is an on-site
consultation service that provides your small businesses with free advice from
trained state government staff. The service is completely separate from any
enforcement programs that the OSHA operates, and is entirely confidential.
Sessions identify and uncover potential workplace hazards and are intended to
help small business owners improve their workplace safety and health systems.
that isn’t sufficient incentive, then this might be – you could qualify for a
one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections if you participate!
3. Small Business
little bit more robust than a simple handbook, this Web-based guide
is intended to help small business employers meet the legal requirements
imposed by the OSH Act and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA
covers the basics of an occupational safety and health plan for small business
owners, tips on how to self-assess your workplace, employee training
strategies, and more.
states do operate their own job safety and health programs. Check here to see which states have OSHA-approved plans and the
standards they mandate.