13 Jan Workplace Safety Basics for Small Business Owners
Owning and operating a small business means wearing a lot of hats. Whereas large corporations have the money to hire specialists and fill redundant positions to ensure optimal coverage, small businesses rarely have the capital on hand to fill all of the roles needed with individual workers, much less the best and brightest in their field. As a result, many small business owners will find themselves handling tasks like management, accounting, sales, and any number of roles they are ill-prepared to tackle. And workplace safety is definitely an undertaking that can fall to a small business owner. But if you want to limit your liability and ensure the health and safety of workers, clients, and anyone who interacts with your business, it’s imperative that you make workplace safety a top priority.
Here are just a few basics you’ll want to address.
The first thing to understand is that there are laws governing workplace health and safety standards. So you’ll probably want to start by becoming aware of these laws so that you can ensure your business is in compliance. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, and they can offer you myriad resources that will help you to understand the laws that apply to your particular business, as well as the ways in which you can come into compliance. You should also find out if there are specific requirements for your state in addition to meeting OSHA standards. You’ll be happy to hear that OSHA offers education and training programs, as well as on-site consultation services, both of which can give you the information needed to ensure proper health and safety standards are observed in your workplace.
Once you understand the laws, you’ll probably want to take steps to ensure that your employees know how to behave in a safe and responsible manner, and this begins with training. Every new hire should be put through the paces with tutorials, videos, and even tests designed to make sure that they understand how to maintain a safe work environment. You don’t want employees slipping on recently-mopped floors or falling off rolling chairs because they stood on them to reach high shelves. And if your business requires the use of heavy machinery, dangerous chemicals, or other potential hazards, you need to make sure that the guidelines for usage are clearly spelled out. Even with proper training, it’s important to post warning signs and safety banners in dangerous areas.
But you might also create penalties for failure to comply and offer rewards when accidents and injuries are avoided, depending on the type of business your run. This can not only encourage employees to act in a prescribed manner, but it can also give them the authority to point out when others are behaving in an unsafe fashion. The onus is on you to determine the importance of workplace safety in your business operation.
If employees feel that you place greater value on getting a job done quickly than on practicing proper safety, they may disregard safety precautions, leading to accidents and injuries. So you need to make it clear that the health and safety of everyone involved is your top priority.