The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created guidelines for small business owners to aid them in creating and benefiting from a safety program. Although voluntary, these guidelines represent OSHA’s policy on what every worksite should have in place to protect workers from occupational hazards. The guidelines are based heavily on OSHA’s experience with the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). These voluntary programs are designed to recognize and promote effective safety and health management as the best means of ensuring a safe and healthful workplace. This handout is the third of four outlining the creation and implementation of a safety program for a SBO.

After completing Part #2 – Analysis, you should know what your existing and potential hazards are. Now you should concentrate on putting in place the systems that will prevent or control those hazards. Your State OSHA or insurance loss control consultant can help you do this. Whenever possible, you will want to eliminate those hazards. Sometimes that can be done through substitution of a less toxic material or through engineering controls that can be built in. When you cannot eliminate hazards, systems should be set up to control them.

Here are some actions for small business owners to take to control their exposures:

  • Set up safe work procedures, based on the analysis of the hazards in your workers’ jobs, and make sure that the workers doing each job understand the procedures and follow them. This may be easier if workers are involved in the analysis that results in the implementation of those procedures.
  • Be ready, if necessary, to enforce the rules for safe work procedures by asking your workers to help you set up a disciplinary system that will be fair and understood by everyone.
  • Where necessary to protect your workers, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and be sure your workers know why they need them, how to use them, and how to maintain them.
  • Provide for regular equipment maintenance to prevent breakdowns that can create hazards.
  • Ensure that preventive and regular maintenance are tracked to completion and documented.
  • Plan for emergencies, including fire and natural disasters, and drill everyone frequently enough so that if the real thing happens, everyone will know what to do even under stressful conditions.
  • Ask your State OSHA or insurance loss control consultant to help you develop a medical program that fits your worksite and involves nearby doctors and emergency facilities. Invite these medical personnel to visit the plant before emergencies occur and help you plan the best way to avoid injuries and illness during emergency situations.
  • Ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of worker health. This does not mean that you must provide health care; but, if health problems develop in your workplace, you are expected to get medical help to treat them and their causes.
  • Have an emergency medical plan for handling injuries, transporting ill or injured workers, and notifying medical facilities with a minimum of confusion. Posting emergency numbers is a good idea.
  • Survey the medical facilities near your place of business and make arrangements for them to handle routine and emergency cases. Cooperative agreements could possibly be made with nearby larger plants that have medical personnel and/or facilities onsite.
  • Have a procedure for reporting injuries and illnesses that is understood by all workers.
  • If your business is remote from medical facilities, ensure that a person or persons are adequately trained and available to render first aid, and that adequate first-aid supplies are readily available for emergency use. Arrangements for this training can be made through your local Red Cross Chapter, your insurance carrier, your local safety council and others.
  • Consider performing routine walkthroughs of the worksite to identify hazards and track them until they are corrected.
  • Check battery-charging stations, maintenance operations, laboratories, heating and ventilating operations and any corrosive materials areas to make sure you have the required eye wash facilities and showers.
  • Consider retaining a local doctor or an occupational health nurse on a part-time or as-used basis to advise you in your medical and first-aid planning. Train workers, supervisors, and managers. (An effective accident prevention program requires proper job performance from everyone in the workplace. As an owner or manager, you must ensure that all workers know about the materials and equipment they work with, what known hazards are in the operation, and how you are controlling those hazards.)
  • Ask your State OSHA or insurance loss control consultant to recommend training for your worksite. The consultant may be able to do some of the training while he or she is there.
  • Make sure you have trained your workers on every potential hazard that they could be exposed to and how to protect themselves. Then verify that they really understand what you taught them.
  • Pay particular attention to your new workers and to old workers who are moving to new jobs. Because they are learning new operations, they are more likely to get hurt.
  • Make sure that you train your supervisors to know all the hazards that face the people they supervise and how to reinforce training with quick reminders and refreshers, and with disciplinary action if necessary. Verify that they know what is expected of them.
  • Make sure that you and your top management staff understand all of your responsibilities and how to hold subordinate supervisory workers accountable for theirs.
  • Depending upon the kinds of potential and existing hazards that you have, when possible, combine safety and health training with other training that you do,. With training, the “proof is in the pudding” in that the result that you want is everyone knowing what they need to know to keep themselves and their fellow workers safe and healthy.

Each worker needs to know the following:

  • No worker should be expected to undertake a job until he or she has received job instructions on how to do it properly and has been authorized to perform that job.
  • No worker should undertake a job that appears unsafe.

COPYRIGHT ©2005, ISO Services Properties, Inc.