For small business owners, providing a safe work environment isn’t just smart—it’s required. Fortunately, by creating a formal safety plan, small businesses can be meet regulatory requirements and better safeguard their valued employees.
Who is sets safety standards?
Three U.S. Department of Labor agencies are responsible for protecting the safety and health of American workers. Each of them creates standards that must be met by small businesses operating in the United States.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Health and safety conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or OSHA-approved state plans. This means nearly every employee in the nation comes under OSHA’s jurisdiction—with a few exceptions (miners, some transportation workers, many public employees, and those who are self-employed). If a small business falls under OSHA’s reach, it has a duty to provide a workplace that’s free from recognized serious hazards.
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
MSHA is responsible for enforcing the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. This act protects the health and safety of mineworkers. It applies to all mining and mineral-processing operations in the country, regardless of size or method of extraction.
Wage and Hour Division
The Wage and Hour Division enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which provides regulations regarding the employment of workers under the age of 18. The FLSA act includes minimum age restrictions for employment, as well as restrictions on the jobs young workers can perform and the time of day they may work.
What should a safety plan include?
A company’s overall occupational health and safety plan should include a variety of modules that address specific hazards, as required by OSHA. In addition to an accident prevention program, other safety and health programs may be required, depending on the hazards in a particular workplace and industry. Once those specific hazards and the appropriate OSHA regulations that apply have been identified, the business owner should begin building out the safety plan. Small business owners may want to work directly with a risk management consultant to outsource the development of their safety plans.
Where are sample safety plans?
In addition to the sample safety programs provided by OSHA, each state’s Department of Labor may have a sample program that can be downloaded and adapted for business use. For example, California’s Department of Industrial Relations provides a sample injury and illness prevention program for non-high hazard employers that small business owners can use as a model for their own programs. In another case, Maine’s Department of Labor provides a variety of sample safety programs tailored to specific job titles.
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