Small businesses may not have as many employees to care for, but they face the same safety challenges as large corporations. In fact, their safety issues are often harder to handle because of their lower budgets and smaller staffs. They still have to meet almost all of OSHA’s requirements for larger companies, and their workers still need adequate safety training, protective equipment and ongoing support. If you’re managing safety for a small business—or if you’re the business owner yourself—use these seven tips to keep your workers safe.
1. Create a Safety Program
Even if you’re handling fewer than 100 employees, you should develop a health and safety program with its own policies, procedures and budget. Healthy workers are productive workers, and measurably dedicating time and resources to their safety is the best way to comply with OSHA guidelines while boosting your bottom line. This program should be tailored to fit your company and culture, and its primary goal should be to help your employees mitigate their day-to-day hazards.
2. Do a Worksite Analysis
A worksite analysis will allow you to identify unsafe conditions and ultimately eliminate unnecessary hazards. OSHA recommendations for a thorough investigation include:
- Researching common hazards in your industry
- Creating safety teams
- Encouraging employees to report workplace hazards
- Examining the history of your worksite conditions
- Creating an adequate system for reporting hazards
- Inspections by trained personnel
- Seeking assistance from health and safety experts
You can also use our free EHS checklist to start your analysis.
3. Conduct Dedicated Safety Training
Your employees may have already undergone extensive training, but more likely than not, that training did not comprehensively cover worksite safety. To make sure everyone at your company understands the policies, procedures and purpose of your safety program, you’ll need to conduct dedicated safety training classes. These courses should also help employees understand how they can take active roles in the program by spotting new hazards, providing feedback and keeping an eye out for incidents.
4. Play an Active Role
Your employees aren’t the only ones who should play active roles. Aside from creating your safety initiatives, you, your superiors and senior management all need to participate. A major part of implementing a safety program is fostering a safety-minded culture, and that can only happen when leadership gets involved. From training sessions to worksite analyses, you need to be in the trenches with your workers.
5. Take Extra Steps
OSHA’s guidelines may seem tough enough to follow, but depending on your industry and location, you may need to go above and beyond to reach the zero-incident goal. A few extra measures you can take:
- Creating special authorizations for hazardous jobs
- Holding emergency preparedness drills
- Offering extra training and support to employees learning new operations
- Training supervisors and managers to recognize new hazards
- Encouraging all employees to report hazardous conditions to their supervisors
6. Consult With OSHA
Unbeknownst to many small-business owners, OSHA offers voluntary compliance programs specifically for small businesses. At an employer’s request, the agency will offer free workplace safety and health training and technical assistance. This service is completely separate from any inspection effort, and no citations or penalties are issued or proposed. The employer’s only obligation is to take demonstrable action to correct serious hazards the OSHA consultant finds.
7. Keep Policies and Procedures Up-to-Date
Finally, one of the best ways to keep your employees safe—and for you to stay compliant—is to keep all of your policies and procedures up-to-date and stored in a single location. An electronic management system can provide workers fast access to the information they need, and it will make it far easier for you to provide the documentation inspectors require.
To store, update and retrieve your safety documentation more efficiently, look into our Policies and Procedures Management tool, one of the many modules of our comprehensive safety software suite.