DOWN TO BUSINESS
A look at small business questions from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
By Arlene M. Soto CMA, CGBP, Southwestern SBDC Director
Is my small business required to hold regular safety meetings?
All employers are required to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) and provide “a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to your employees regardless of the size of your business. You must comply with OSHA standards and regulations under the OSH Act. You must also be familiar with those OSHA standards and regulations that apply to your workplace and make copies of them available to employees upon request.” Information about compliance is available online at www.osha.gov.
The requirement to provide regular safety meetings is defined in the Oregon OSHA’s Quick Guide to Safety Committees and Safety Meetings http://www.orosha.org/pdf/pubs/0989.pdf which states “If you’re an employer in Oregon, your business must have a safety committee or hold safety meetings unless you’re a sole owner and only employee of a corporation.” The size of a safety committee and documentation of safety meetings are outlined in the Oregon OSHA guide.
A safe work environment is good for business. Employers who invest in employee safety find they save significant dollars by lowering costs for worker’s compensation, lowering costs of compliance issues, increasing productivity and even creating higher employee morale. Begin this process by learning which health and safety issues are part of your work environment. OSHA can help with a variety of resources including educational tools, consultation on compliance issues and informative publications.
According to OSHA there are five elements every safety program should have: “management leadership and employee participation, workplace analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training and education, and program evaluation.” Safety programs need to be designed specifically for your work environment. An office setting has much different safety training needs than a construction site or manufacturing floor.
Workplace safety starts with a partnership between management and employees. A worksite safety analysis will help identify any current issues or future safety concerns. Workplace safety policies and procedures will define how management and employees are to behave to maintain a safe work environment. Safety meetings are a part of the communications process between employers and employees.
The SBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network, the Oregon Business Development Department and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Arlene M. Soto has been the Director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center since July 2007. To ask a question call 541-756-6445, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend, OR 97459. Additional help is available at the OSBDCN Web page www.bizcenter.org.