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How to Keep Your Small Business Safe and Healthy

Posted by James W. Creenan | Feb 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

As a small business owner, you care about the well-being of your workers and the success of your business1. But did you know that having a safety and health program can help you achieve both goals?

A safety and health program is a set of policies and practices that proactively prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, improve compliance with laws and regulations, reduce costs, engage workers, and enhance productivity and quality2.

In this post, we will share some tips and resources on how to develop and implement a safety and health program for your small business, based on the Small Business Safety and Health Handbook published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)3.

Start with a Self-Inspection

One of the first steps to identify and control hazards in your workplace is to conduct a self-inspection4. This means that you and your workers inspect your work processes, equipment, and environment regularly and look for potential sources of harm or injury.

The handbook provides a series of checklists that cover various topics, such as:

You can use these checklists as a starting point and customize them to suit your specific needs and operations. You can also consult with OSHA's On-Site Consultation programs, which offer free and confidential advice and assistance to small businesses.

Follow the Seven Core Elements

A safety and health program is not a one-time event, but a continuous process that requires management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards13. The handbook outlines seven core elements that are essential for a successful program:

  • Management leadership: Demonstrate your commitment to safety and health by providing resources, setting goals, and leading by example.
  • Worker participation: Involve your workers in all aspects of the program, such as identifying hazards, suggesting solutions, reporting incidents, and receiving training.
  • Hazard identification and assessment: Conduct regular inspections, investigations, and analyses to identify existing and potential hazards and assess their severity and likelihood.
  • Hazard prevention and control: Implement appropriate measures to eliminate or minimize hazards, such as engineering controls, administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the controls and make adjustments as needed.
  • Education and training: Provide your workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely and to understand their roles and responsibilities in the program.
  • Program evaluation and improvement: Review your program periodically to assess its strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities for improvement. Use data from inspections, investigations, audits, and feedback to measure your progress and performance.
  • Communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies: Ensure clear and consistent communication and coordination among all parties involved in your work operations, especially when workers are hired through contractors or staffing agencies. Establish roles and expectations, and share relevant information on hazards and controls.

Access More Resources

Developing and implementing a safety and health program may seem daunting, but you don't have to do it alone15. There are many resources available to help you, such as:

By investing in a safety and health program, you are not only protecting your workers from harm, but also enhancing your business performance and reputation14. A safe business is a sound business18. Start your program today and reap the benefits.

About the Author

James W. Creenan



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