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Get Serious About Safety

Workplace safety is an important topic for all small business owners. Companies can face liability lawsuits and fines when accidents result from not following safety regulations and procedures. Buisnesses also risk lost productivity and increased worker's compensation costs. But more importantly, small business owners have a moral obligation to create a safe environment for their employees.

Here are five simple ideas for promoting safety in your workplace, courtesy of this article by Jennifer Gregory for the OPEN Forum:

  1. SafetyzonePost signs. Check OSHA requirements listed here to see where you need safety signs. Signage must conform to rules for color size and language, such as and yellow with black letters for caution. Many situations require a specific emblem to be on the sign, such as biological hazard symbol. Signs must also have rounded corners and be fastened safely to the wall.
  2. Get all employees on the same page. Safety training should be integrated into your daily routine and not something that happens a few times a year. Consider holding weekly safety meetings (or even daily in high risk industries) to address concerns and review safety procedures, such as showing employees proper ways to lift heavy equipment.
  3. Know the drill. Brainstorm what emergencies may arise in your facility and plan regular drills for these situations. In addition to surprise fire drills, consider having planned drills for extreme situations, such as an explosion or medical emergencies, as well as simple accidents, such as falls from ladders or injuries from lifting.
  4. Measure safety results. By keeping detailed records of any accidents or situations where  employees did not follow safety procedures, you know where to focus your training or modify your procedures.
  5. Offer safety prizes. Consider rewarding employees with gift cards when a team goes a month without an accident. Other incentives include bonus vacation time for attending additional safety classes or hosting an office event when goals are met.

Several Internet resources exist for workplace safety. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has compiled this web page containing the most useful links from OSHA, the CDC, and more relating to small business.

For more comprehensive research, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers information on their website, including this page of resources specifically for small businesses.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), administered under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also provides a wealth of information to prevent workplace illnesses and injuries.

What are the the top 10 violations cited by OSHA in 2011? Fall Protection, Scaffolding, Hazard Communication, and Respiratory Protection lead the list.