Ensuring a Healthy and Risk-Free Workplace
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: July 30, 2009, 7:47 am
- Updated: February 10, 2011, 4:40 pm
Most 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 owner.
As 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)
There 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
The 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.
2. On-Site Consultations to Help you Assess and Fine Tune your Health and Safety Policies
One 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.
If 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 Handbook
A 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 inspection.
It 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.
4. State-Specific Requirements
Some 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.
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