The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government agency looking after health and safety standards for your small business. As a result, they can inspect you and hit you with citations.
Recently the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) held a webinar called OSHA Essentials for Small Business. Elizabeth Milito Senior Executive Counsel, Legal Foundation, NFIB, and Davis Jenkins, Esq. Olgetree Deakins chaired the event.
Here are 10 things about OSHA small businesses must know.
SMB’s Can Comment on Standards
There are rules that you need to follow under OSHA so your workplace is safe for employees. But small businesses can have a say.
“Everyone can submit a comment on a proposed OSHA rule. If you want to keep track of OSHA and keep them in check, submit one.”
Know the Common Standards
Your small business will fit into a specific category. For example, businesses generally fit into the big two categories of General Industry and Construction. It’s helpful to have a general overview of the standards for the category into which your business fits.
Deakins provided a quick list of the standards most often cited like occupational noise and fall protection.
This is a good starting point.
Your SMB Could Be Exempt
Chances are, if you’ve got employees, they’re going to be covered under OSHA. However, there are a few exemptions. For example, self employed people, members of farm families working on family farms and local and state government employees are exempt.
If you’re not sure about your business, check with a labor lawyer.
You Need to Be Transparent
As a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to be familiar with OSHA standards. You need to keep copies on hand for your employees. Everyone who works for you needs to be informed about OSHA.
“I always tell employers to make that a priority,” Jenkins said.
Small Businesses Need to Supply the Right Equipment
As an employer, you have a responsibility to make sure employees have safety equipment and tools that include the appropriate protective devices. You also need to be sure all of the above is properly maintained.
Proper Lock/ Out Tag Out Procedures Need to Be In Place
This is the standard that covers many operating procedures. One of the big ones is this lockout/ tag out process for things like elevator maintenance. They generally cover potentially hazardous situations during servicing and maintenance.
This standard also involves the use of posters, labels and signs that are color-coded to warn employees of potential safety hazards.
Know When to Keep Records
Got over 10 employees? You need to keep records of any work-related injuries and/or illnesses. You even need to post these totals.
Report Accidents/Fatalities on Time
Small businesses need to report deaths within eight hours. Same goes for accidents where three or more employees are sent to hospital. Everything goes into the OSHA 300 log.
If an accident or illness happens you need to record it within seven days. Jenkins says it’s easy to use.
“It’s quite user-friendly and in a question and answer format.”
In some cases, your small business might need to provide medical examinations.
“On that same vein there’s even the blood born pathogen standard,” Jenkins says. “It even goes so far as making vaccinations available.”
That’s mostly for hospitals but a small clinic might want to look into this.
There’s A Checklist You Can Use
The more you stay on top of these OSHA standards, the less likely you’ll violate one of them. Inside their small business handbook is a few self inspection checklists that should come in handy.
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