What is one step a small business owner can take to best manage workplace health and safety?
To help small business owners manage workplace health and safety, we asked CEOs and small business owners this question for their best advice. From testing your health and safety procedures to preparing a checklist of all potential hazards and risks, there are several steps that you may take as a small business owner to best manage the health and safety of employees in the workplace.
1. Test Your Health and Safety Procedures
You can put what you think are the best workplace health and safety protocols in place, but you will not know if they work unless you test them, which is something every owner should do. Businesses have different structures and needs, and though there are common workplace measures, those differences may cause hiccups in implementing health and safety protocols.
Once deciding on your policy, you need to take it for a spin and check for exits from the building being efficient, employees knowing reporting procedures, the proper use of safety equipment, the placement and amount of first aid on-site, and other pertinent matters. Creating a comprehensive and well-thought-out policy is essential, but the devil is in the detail, and the only way an owner can make sure their policy is sufficient is to test it out.
Anthony Puopolo, Rex MD
2. Educate Stakeholders On Laws and Regulations
While managing workplace health and safety is often viewed as a proactive step that a small business owner can take, most of these procedures are also required by law. Educating employees, clients, and all other stakeholders who enter the workplace is a great way to ensure that they follow these workplace regulations. It is also an excellent idea to let stakeholders know of these laws because it is then more manageable for the small business owner to enforce the health and safety precautions they have in place without resistance. Since stakeholders now know they would violate the law if they ignore workplace protocols, they will follow them more diligently.
Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
3. Engage The Services of OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a no-cost consultation service that will work with you to identify potential workplace hazards and opportunities for improvement to existing safety processes. Separate from OSHA inspections, the consultation service is confidential, and no citations will be issued. Taking part in a consultation can result in a one-year exemption from your annual OSHA inspection. There’s also a library of OSHA resources, including free courses addressing workplace safety for anyone to take advantage of!
Joshua Chin, Chronos
4. Draft a Health and Safety Policy for Workers Reference
Establishing a health and safety policy is the first step a small business owner should take to manage the well-being of their workers. Small businesses don’t have large administrative departments to consider the approach and examine workplace safety from a legal or ethical perspective. The responsibility ultimately falls on a compact management team to oversee the administrative functions of a small business, and this includes outlining workplace safety policies. Owners and operators of small businesses should establish their safety policy in a document that can be easily disseminated to their workforce and referred to at any time. This is a reasonable first step in managing a small business's workplace health and safety.
Katy Carrigan, Goody
5. Report Injuries No Matter How Minor
You must emphasize to your employees the importance of reporting anything that might occur when someone gets injured, even if they consider it minor. All near misses, even a bandage for a cut, should be reported and logged. Reports will most likely increase in the short team, especially if there is a culture of nonreporting, but this will level off. You are creating a new safety culture, and this small step will positively affect your company's overall safety. When your workplace safety culture is proactive, you also keep track of what people do to avoid injuries and accidents. You will be able to prevent future injuries by your employees.
Mark Daoust, Quiet Light
6. Update Safety Measures and Training
Safety measures and training should be updated regularly. Technology and work processes change rapidly, and you should always be aware of any possible risks that arise with these changes and plan accordingly. As an employer, health and safety in the workplace it’s your responsibility.
Suppose an accident of any kind happened in a workplace or environment for which you are responsible. It should be properly investigated in-depth to prevent it from happening again.
John Cheng, Baotris
7. Make Health and Safety Part of The Business Culture
The best way to manage workplace health and safety for small business owners is to make it a part of their business culture. Health and safety should always be central in the business' culture. The easiest way to accomplish this is to start slowly. Define responsibilities, develop a health and safety system that works, involve employees of all levels, and hold everyone accountable. I also believe that small business owners should commit to continual growth and expansion when managing workplace health and safety.
Ian Kelly, NuLeaf Naturals
8. Decide Together as a Team
Include employees in decisions made about how to handle health and safety. Doing so ensures greater success for several reasons. First, when we make the rules, we’re more inclined to keep them and enforce them.
Second, the staff can help spot workplace risks. Lastly, it’s easier to understand which safety rules are practical and which aren’t when the research is spread across departments. A team that collaborates on issues like health and safety is not only more committed to said issues but more cohesive overall!
Erin Banta, Pepper
9. Create a Rotating Health and Safety Committee
This is the best way to involve employees in health and safety training and protocol and develop a team mentality around the well-being of all company employees. If everyone knows they will be stepping into a leadership position on health and safety matters, it will ensure the team is equally trained and equally monitored and supported. Letting health and safety be a team experience is the best way to get everyone on the same page and equally invested in the well-being of the whole company.
Tony Staehelin, Benable
10. Hold Periodic Refreshers On Health and Safety Procedures
Early refreshers on health and safety procedures can be a great way to maintain a safe workspace for employees. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. It's unrealistic to expect employees to remember all health and safety procedures for your business right out of the box.
When adding new elements to your business that may affect worker safety, it's important to go over new procedures several times at the beginning of implementation. Don't take it on faith that employees have understood and retained new procedures after a single meeting or lesson. In the first month, review procedures frequently to ensure everyone understands them thoroughly. Even after that, periodic refreshment is also a good idea to ensure employees haven't become so comfortable that they may cut corners regarding workplace health and safety.
Alex Chavarry, Cool Links
11. Post Guidelines in a Visible Place for Workers
Posting relevant guidelines in a visible place is an easy precaution small business owners can take to manage workplace safety. Having a set of guidelines posted in a convenient and visible location can help ensure the safety of customers and employees.
Every workplace comes with its own set of risks. The relevant safety guidelines will be different for a restaurant than for a hardware store. Simply posting a piece of paper with the guidelines in a high-traffic area of the business will act as a constant visual cue. If employees can use the safety guidelines as a checklist to follow throughout their daily job requirements, then the business owner has taken steps to meet their responsibility of ensuring workplace safety.
Sean Doherty, Box Genie
12. Prepare a Checklist of all Potential Hazards and Risks
If you run a small business, don’t think providing and managing workplace health and safety is challenging. It’s not so hard. One step you should take is to prepare a comprehensive checklist of all potential hazards and risks. Divide your list into sections to make it easier to manage the object. For example, include such sections as floors and walkways, fire safety, electrical or chemical hazards, and any other dangers. Then for each of the sections, prepare to verify questions. Are rubber mats provided to prevent slips? Are ladders in good condition? Are fire extinguishers provided in each work area? Are all chemicals properly labeled and stored? - these are just some safety-check questions you must remember. Based on this comprehensive list, regularly check workplace health and safety.
Nina Paczka, MyPerfectResume