Workplace Safety Guidelines for Small Business Owners

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Believe it or not, small businesses carry a reputation for preferring profits over people. With so many plans and so few resources, it is possible to turn a blind eye to workplace safety. According to Private industry employers, 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in the year 2021.

Complying with small business safety practices should not have to be complicated at all. To give you a head-start, we have compiled some important guidelines to help you ensure a safer work environment and reduce the chances of potential accidents and injuries.

Let’s get started.

1. Stay Aware of the Safety Regulations for Small Business Owners

SMBs and startups need to abide by a particular set of standards than huge corporations. One can find safety regulations for small business owners specified by the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) in a handbook. Educating oneself on OSHA’s small business safety standards can be the right first step toward guaranteeing workplace safety. Since the organization revises its policies and regulations from time to time, it’s important to keep abreast with the Changes In OSHA Regulations. Once you understand what workplace safety involves, it will be easier to take the necessary measures.

Here are some of the recent changes that OSHA has made in its policies.

a) Record-keeping Proposed Rule

On March 30, 2022, OSHA published an NPRM, revising the electronic injury and illness reporting protocols for many businesses in the United States. According to the NPRM, companies–with 100+ staff in certain designated industries–must submit information online from their OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A to OSHA every year.

b) HazCom Proposed Rule

OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) updating HazCom Standard on February 16, 2021, which proposes major revisions in the requirements for small shipped containers, categorizations for combustible gasses, aerosols, and desensitized explosives, transportation demands for “bulk shipments,” and so on.

c) Silica Update

OSHA’s planned silica update includes revisions to the crystalline silica standard’s distribution for mechanical power presses, medical removal, lockout/tagout, and industrial truck design standards.

d) Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) Update

According to OSHA, the main reason for injury within the industry is lockout/tagout, electrical hazards, and machine guarding. The Spring Regulatory Agenda confirms OSHA has been gearing up to start rulemaking to revise the LOTO standard. The agenda shows that the update for an NPRM will be released in March 2023.

2. Define Safety Policies and Ensure Their Abidance

The next step is defining safety policies and procedures within your company. Many companies handout safety handbooks that employees can refer to whenever in doubt.

However, having such materials and following them is not the same. You also need to make sure that your employees fully consume and adopt the regulations. Employers should constantly remind the staff about the significance of abiding by the safety guidelines. Besides, according to OSHA regulations, the staff is needed to follow the rules and regulations established by the employer.

3. Plan a Workplace Safety Audit for Small Businesses

After you and your employees get a clear understanding of the safety hazards that your business needs to conform to, start conducting your safety audit within the company. Conduct audits of workplaces to ensure high standards of health, safety, and fire hazards. Your audits should include the inspection of all heavy machines and equipment’s maintenance, performance, and use. Once the survey is completed, assessments should be made in compliance with relevant building and fire codes as well as the detection of insecure hazards.

4. Make Safety Gear a Must

Embracing personal protective equipment (PPE) is important to keep your staff protected from potential hazards and ensure a safe work environment. Employers should make sure that the employees have access to the appropriate protective gear and know how to use them correctly, be it earplugs, hard hats, safety glasses, or gloves.

To fortify safety culture in small businesses, it is better not to underestimate potentially hazardous situations. Although wearing safety gear can protect you while operating in hazardous sites, sometimes neglecting potential minor accidents can cause serious injury.

5. Careful Handling of Dangerous Materials

Hazardous materials can be a high risk when not stored, managed, or discarded properly. ILO states that hazardous substances alone result in around 650,000 deaths every year.

Always label harmful substances with warning signs and keep them in secure and isolated areas to minimize the risks of exposure and accidents. Above all, make sure that the employees handling such materials are well-trained about the usage and application. Devise emergency plans beforehand to combat situations after accidental spills or releases.


To sum it up, implementing these effective workplace security guidelines for small businesses will help you reduce the risk of accidents. All you need to do is to make sure that your staff has the right tools, information, and conditions to work safely.

Make note of the areas that are more prone to having accidents. As OSHA has stated, the top of them include:

Electrical—having more than necessary extension cords, extension cord tripping risks, etc.

Poor Housekeeping—Exposed wires and machines, clutter blocking emergency exits, etc.

Working at Heights—Less or no use of proper fall protection equipment

Lockout/Tagout—Complacency, hastening to complete work, lack of knowledge about the equipment, etc.

Forklifts—Less training, taking “short-cuts”, carelessness, etc.

Confined Spaces—insecure atmosphere, crashes, etc. 

Chemicals—inaccurate chemical labeling, expired chemicals, disposables, etc.

Furthermore, here are some final pointers to maintain safety in your company:

  • Be proactive rather than being reactive.
  • Consider precautions, and not curative measures.
  • Read countless free resources and make them accessible to your staff in order to ensure workplace safety.
  • Make sure your employees know the importance of “Safety”.

About the author


Elis Enano