OSHA and Your Small Business: What You Need to Know

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People make jokes about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration all the time (OSHA). Mostly about how a worker is doing some crazy and dangerous stunt. But worker safety should not be a joking matter to those who run a business.

Implementing proper safety protocols will ensure that your people don’t get into accidents on the job. This can also protect you from personal injury lawsuits and other liability issues which can be devastating to a small business. Here’s what you need to know.

Know the Exemptions

One common belief among small business owners is that they are exempt from OSHA regulations. They mostly think that it only applies to big companies. Unfortunately, as long as you employ other people, you likely have to meet OSHA regulations. The only clear exemption for OSHA rules is when you are self-employed and you are the only worker. You might also be exempted if you own a farm and you only have family working on it.

But some rules put you under less scrutiny. If your business has less than ten people, your business is exempt from injury and incident reporting, as well as the usual safety inspections. Some businesses in low-risk industries with more than ten employees are also exempt.

Look at Your State’s Rules

While OSHA operates all over the country, their rules can be pretty different. The administration allows a state to create its own rules for health and safety. OSHA looks them over and sees if they match the minimum requirements. If they do, then they usually get approval. It will then be OSHA’s job to enforce those rules. Twenty states in the country have their safety regulations so you better check if you are operating in one of them. Check your local OSHA website for the details.

Providing Proper Equipment and Gear are Important

One of the OSHA rules that you have to follow is that it is your responsibility to provide all the safety gear and protective equipment for your employees. Small business owners often try to cut costs by specifying the sort of protective equipment their employees can use and leave it to them to purchase it. It is better to do it yourself so that you can be sure about their quality.

Hire a Safety Officer

Keeping up with safety concerns is a full-time job. If possible, you should hire someone to be a safety officer. Their main duty is to review the local OSHA regulations and keep your business compliant. They will be trying their best to ensure a culture of safety is in place in your work. Having a clear person be in charge of worker safety ensures that you know who to talk to when it comes to safety issues. Additionally, if your small business needs to do accident or injury reporting, then you have some who is assigned to the job.

Get their Help

If you are struggling to think of what you need to change in your safety rules, you should contact OSHA directly. The organization has a program that offers small businesses a free consultation service. Their main focus would be to identify safety hazards and how to improve the current safety systems. If your business is in a dangerous industry, then you will likely get priority.

Implementing OSHA rules might seem a bit too much for a small operation but it can be worth it. Even a small disruption caused by accidents can be devastating to small businesses. Additionally, the lawsuits they might face for their negligence could lead to bankruptcy. Avoid all of these by focusing on worker safety, especially in risky industries.

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