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BOB: OSHA and Small Business: An Introduction

24 Feb


A feeling of dread strikes the hearts of many small business owners whenever OSHA is mentioned. OSHA, which stands for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, is a federal agency designed to protect workers from injuries due to workplace negligence. Abiding by OSHA regulations is required.
The feeling of dread comes from the fact that failure to comply with OSHA standards results in substantial fines and penalties. To ensure compliance, OSHA conducts surprise inspections. The agency also fields and investigates employee and consumer complaints. Because of the vast range of business types OSHA oversees, small business owners face the daunting task of wading through a staggering number of rules and regulations to find those that apply to them. Continue reading to learn more about determining the OSHA requirements for your small business.

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Safety First
The ultimate goal for both OSHA and the small business owner is to ensure that employees work in an environment that is safe and healthy. An employee who is injured on the job or becomes ill because of the working environment ends up costing a company much more than an employee who works in a healthy, safe atmosphere. Paying worker’s compensation and health care bills along with a loss of employee productivity are just some of the expenses a business incurs by not providing a healthy workplace.
Safety is not just important in industries that deal with complicated machinery or hazardous materials, but in office situations as well. For example, OSHA covers tornado preparedness as well as ergonomic seating. Not all OSHA recommendations are mandatory, but all have one purpose – to keep employees safe.
OSHA and Your Company
Each business must abide by an industry-specific set of rules. Fortunately, resources are readily available. The following is a list of practical ways for small business owners to learn about OSHA regulations, develop a safety plan and effectively execute the plan in the workplace environment:

  1. Obtain training from an authorized OSHA trainer. Most authorized trainers offer individual audits as part of the training program. Training is geared toward your specific industry. Utilizing an OSHA authorized trainer also gives you the advantage of learning about your state and local requirements.
  2. Conduct routine internal inspections. It’s human nature to become lax over time. To combat complacency, small business owners need to remain vigilante. Reminding employees that safety matters emphasizes the importance you place on providing a safe and healthy environment.
  3. Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage employees to voice ideas and suggestions about improving safety in their work area.
  4. Stay up-to-date with OSHA regulations for your industry through your regional OSHA office. One of the frustrating aspects of OSHA compliance is that the rules constantly change. Regional offices provide a wealth of information about changes and updates to the law. Sign up to receive email newsletters and bulletins to stay informed.
  5. Assign a safety officer within your organization. Having a staff member whose primary purpose is to establish a safe environment, monitor changes in the law and manage day-to-day issues as they arise is an excellent way to maintain the highest levels of OSHA compliance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to safeguard workers against dangerous and unsafe working conditions. By complying with OSHA regulations, small business owners not only follow the law, but they take an active role in reducing workplace accidents and injuries.
For assistance with your OSHA regulatory requirements, contact the VenSure Loss Control department. Our Loss Control Specialists are knowledgeable in federal OSHA and state requirements. In addition, the VenSure Loss Control Specialists are authorized by OSHA to conduct outreach training in General Industry and Construction.

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