It happens all the time. Blinded by their desire to keep costs low, some cash-strapped small business owners and entrepreneurs are prone to taking risks. They look for ways to cut corners, but more often then not, their short cuts only end up damaging their business.
This couldn’t be more true in the area of health and safety. When it comes to the health and safety of you, your employees, your customers, and even the community at large, there are no compromises. Putting any of these people in danger isn’t good management, and it isn’t frugal either, it’s just plain stupid.
Moreover, creating and maintaining a safe and healthy work space is good for business. It will increase productivity, reduce lost time for illness and injury, improve employee moral (which is connected to performance), and breed goodwill among your employees and customers. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you learn about the relevant health and safety laws, offer consultation, and provide additional training. Many of these resources are for free; I am going to point you to some of the best ones.
Just keep in mind that complying with health and safety standards involves many different kinds of business from construction to manufacturing, food production to recreational services. So if you are running a small business, chances are pretty good that some of this information is relevant in some way.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA). If you are running a business in the U.S. then OSHA’s small business website should be your first stop. This page offers safety and health tools, articles, and publications, as well as easy-to-follow guides for specific OSHA requirements. In particular be sure to check out:
- OSHA’s benefits page- Here you’ll find an assortment of services, information, and handy tools
- OSHA’s free on-site consultation program- Get paired up with an OSHA consultant who will work for free with your business to make sure you’ve got a safe work environment.
- The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)- which recognizes small business employers who operate exemplary injury and illness prevention programs.
- OSHA Small Business Handbook- A downloadable guide to managing safety and health in a small business.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). The CDC also has a good assortment of resources, guides, and tutorials. Be sure to take a look at their Small Business Resource Guide. Included there are several guides, courses, and handbooks. Here is a small sampling:
Accident Prevention Program Guide A downloadable resource for small businesses, which includes checklists and covers eight main topics:
- Record keeping
- Safety analysis
- Accident prevention
- Accident reporting and investigating
- Safety inspection
- Program review
Provided by the Texas Department of Insurance. Most information is applicable in other states.
An Introduction to Health and Safety A downloadable booklet about the common causes of workplace injuries and illnesses with quizzes at the end. Contains specific United Kingdom regulations, but much of the information is generally applicable. Topics include:
- Health and safety management
- Slips, trips and falls
- Hazardous substances
- Falls from a height
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Display screen equipment
- Work equipment and machinery
- Maintenance and building work
- Workplace transport
- Pressure systems
- Fire and explosion
- First aid and accident reporting
Provided by the Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom. Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government License v1.0.
Note to my UK readers: If you would like more info about health and safety in the UK, then head on over to the Health and Safety Executive main site.
How to Develop a Simple, Cost-Effective Safety & Health Program. Information on how to develop a simple, cost effective safety and health program for small businesses. Includes seven simple steps to effective safety and health programs and additional links.
Provided by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Small Business Committee.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). This page offers a bunch of resources to prevent pollution at the workplace and to become aware of various health and safety issues that affect the environment in particular.