OSHA Basics: OSHA’s Small Business Handbook


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If you're in charge of safety at a small business, and you feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the OSHA compliance regulations, you're going to be excited to know about OSHA's Small Business Handbook. It's just what you're looking for.

In this article, we'll tell you about OSHA's Small Business Handbook, tell you how it can help you, and most importantly, tell you where to get it.

If you find this article helpful, you may also want to check the other articles in our OSHA Basics series, which includes a number of articles to help with 101-level OSHA information. We've included a series of links to the other OSHA Basics articles at the bottom of this article.

For now, though, let's take a closer look at the Small Business Handbook.

All About OSHA's Small Business Handbook

In their own words (on page 2 of the handbook), here's how OSHA describes their Small Business Handbook:

This handbook is provided to owners, proprietors and managers of small businesses by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)...The handbook should help small business employers meet the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Saf ty and H alth Act of 1970 (the Act), and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection.

So if your a small business owner, proprietor, manager, or even safety manager, this has got to sound like good news, right?

Go ahead and download a copy of the OSHA Small Business Handbook while we're talking.

OSHA's Office of Small Business Assistance

The Small Business Handbook was created by OSHA's Office of Small Business Assistance. Here's how they describe their mission:

OSHA wants to provide quality service to our small business customers. In October 2002, OSHA created the Office of Small Business Assistance to provide small business direction, to facilitate information sharing and to help in finding and achieving regulatory compliance. The office also works to educate small businesses on using up-to-date tools and materials, and facilitates opportunities to comment on OSHA’s regulatory agenda.

If you're a busy small business owner, that's got to sound good. Here's how to contact the Office of Small Business Assistance if you need help above and beyond what the Small Business Handbook can provide:

  • OSHA's Small Business Web Pages
  • Phone: (202) 693-2220
  • Mail: Director, Office of Small Business Assistance, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N-3700, Washington, DC 20210

The Four-Point Plan

One of the first things the Small Business Handbook explains is the importance of a small business putting together a four-point plan for occupational safety and health which includes these four points:

  • Management commitment and employee involvement
  • Worksite analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Training for employees, supervisors, and managers

Safety Management Systems

The Small Business Handbook then discusses the importance of setting up a safety management program or system at your workplace. Because the Handbook was written in 2005, it doesn't include a reference to OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs, which was published in 2016. We'll write that wrong by recommending you download the Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs soon (there's one version for General Industry and one for Construction).

Self Inspection Tips and Checklists

The Small Business Handbook also provides tips for performing self inspections and, even better, gives you 21 pages of helpful self-inspection checklists to use at your workplace.

See pages 18-39 for these checklists.

Additional Specifics in the OSHA Small Business Handbook

The Small Business Handbook then goes on to give a LOT of helpful, specific information about a LOT of important things related to occupational safety and health and OSHA compliance. We'll provide a list below, but remember to download the Small Business Handbook to get detailed assistance on all of this:

  • Employer posting requirements
  • Recordkeeping
  • Safety and health programs
  • Medical service and first aid
  • Fire protection
  • PPE and clothing
  • General work environment
  • Walkways
  • Floor and wall openings
  • Stairs and stairways
  • Elevated surfaces
  • Exiting or egress-evacuation
  • Exit doors
  • Portable ladders
  • Hand tools and equipment
  • Portable (power operated tools and equipment
  • Abrasive wheel equipment grinders
  • Powder-actuated tools
  • Machine guarding
  • Lockout/tagout procedures
  • Welding, cutting, and brazing
  • Compressors and compressed air
  • Compressors/air receivers
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Hoist and auxiliary equipment
  • Industrial trucks-forklifts
  • Spraying operations
  • Entering confined spaces
  • Environmental controls
  • Flammable and combustible materials
  • Hazardous chemical exposure
  • Hazardous substance communication
  • Electrical
  • Noise
  • Fueling
  • Identification of piping systems
  • Materials handling
  • Transporting employees and materials
  • Control of harmful substances by ventilation
  • Sanitizing equipment and clothing
  • Tire inflation

Does this sound like the kind of stuff you could use help with? If so, why not give the Handbook a chance. Remember, OSHA really does want to help you create a safe and health workplace for your employees.

For More Help on OSHA Compliance

The Small Business Handbook OSHA created is a great resource, but if you'd like even more help, this article on OSHA Compliance Requirements for General Industry Employers is a good resource as well.

For Even More OSHA Basics Articles

Remember that this is just one article in a series we've dubbed OSHA Basics. Feel free to check out any of the other articles below:

Want to Know More?

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