Safety may not always seem like a priority, but an accident can be costly if you’re unprepared. Being PROACTIVE is always less expensive than being REACTIVE. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help protect both your business and your greatest assets; your employees and customers.
There are myriad challenges facing small businesses and one of the largest is safeguarding the health and safety of their employees. All the safety concerns that affect large companies are still present for small businesses. Small businesses unfortunately have to work with lower budgets and smaller less-experienced staffs, making safety issues harder to handle. Small businesses still have to meet all of OSHA’s small business requirements and their workers require adequate safety training and protective equipment, as well as ongoing support.
This problem is exacerbated for higher-risk businesses such as pawn shops, where the employees will frequently have to handle significantly more dangerous items than many other businesses deal with, such as firearms, bladed weapons and power tools, among other things. It’s not all bad news though - there are ways to make the most of a minimal safety budget without risking a workplace accident down the line. This article will explain 7 ways to ensure health and safety on a budget fit for a small business.
1. Understand the Relevant Rules and Regulations
OSHA holds small businesses to different standards than large corporations. These standards are specifically designed by OSHA to accommodate a smaller staff and work-space. The first step in securing your company’s workplace safety is to get educated on current OSHA small business safety regulations. Once you are fully cognizant of what comprises workplace safety for your company, you can then take the steps to satisfy those requirements. Also, don’t hesitate to work with your state pawn association or a third-party team to learn more about what is required.
2. Have a Company Safety Manual
A safety manual plainly lays out all aspects of the business related to safety for all employees to see. Ensuring that all employees have read the safety manual before beginning employment will help educate them against any potential hazards in the workplace. Additionally, it can also keep the company in compliance with OSHA regulations by explaining what to do in the event of an accident or emergency and how to keep records in accordance with OSHA guidelines. Ensure that your policies are kept in line with current regulations and best practices are stored in a single location accessible to all employees. This will simplify access for any refresher courses as well as streamline documentation requests made by compliance inspectors.
3. Dedicated Safety Training
Your employees may have already gone through extensive training, but it is likely that the training did not fully cover every aspect of worksite safety. Some employees may not have fully grasped what was being taught during the original training and would therefore benefit from additional training. Perhaps procedures have been updated since initial employee orientation. In order to ensure that everyone in the company fully understands the safety program, it helps to conduct dedicated safety classes. These classes can also help your employees to understand how they can help improve the safety program by spotting new hazards and providing feedback, as well as keeping an eye out for any incidents that may occur.
Being aware of the most prevalent safety issues for your business is a vitally important step in eliminating the dangers that they create for your business. Prioritizing safety risks can also help you maximize the effectiveness of your safety program by ensuring that vital resources aren’t squandered preventing issues that were never going to happen. The most common safety hazards in the workplace are:
Retail businesses can have trouble gathering all your staff all at one time. If this is true for your business, schedule a couple brief informal talks over the course of a week about safety issues, ensuring all your employees have the chance to ask questions or bring up concerns.
4. Posted Reminders
Safety posters or reminders are a surprisingly effective way to remind employees about health and safety. One important thing to keep in mind is to be careful when designing the reminder so that the reminder has the desired effect. Overly-aggressive signage or signs simply telling them to do something are a surefire way to either ensure that the message is either not retained by your employees or ignored entirely. A sign simply telling employees to do something that is obvious can even come off as condescending. An alternative idea is to keep the messages short and positive. Using a funny image or a meme with the message can help the employees actually listen to it instead of just rolling their eyes and ignoring it.
5. Do Your Own Safety Audit
Occasionally conducting your own safety audit can keep you on top of any potential health, safety, and fire hazards before they become a problem. By using these surveys and assessments, you can ensure compliance with all applicable building and fire codes as well as aid in the detection of any potential hazards. A regular but unannounced safety audit can keep your employees on their toes and help ensure that should an OSHA audit take place; your business will have a better chance of experiencing no surprises.
6. Find Someone with Experience for Guidance
One valuable resource for a small business to have is someone with experience in dealing with safety issues that can help ensure the business remains safe from workplace incidents and injuries. This person may come from a larger business where incidents happen more frequently than in a small company. Finding someone who already has experience with these incidents and has learned the necessary lessons can help protect your business from a painful lesson down the road. A small business may not have it in the budget to hire someone to function as solely a safety professional, but those responsibilities could be folded into the various other parts of a manager’s scope of responsibilities.
7. Incentivize good behavior
There are strong incentives to create a safe work environment that are not readily apparent. This can go beyond just a desire to comply with federal safety regulations. Compliance costs are calculated per employee and there are certain costs embedded regardless of business size. This means that small businesses with fewer than 20 employees pay the most in compliance costs per employee. In addition, workers’ compensation rates are affected by on-the-job incidents and rising rates can have a serious impact on a small business’s ability to stay afloat. The good thing is that workers’ comp insurance provides a discount to any businesses with no claims. This discount incentivizes small businesses to offer a safe working environment.
Employees that want to be more involved in the business can be encouraged to engage within a the “Safety Team” or “Safety Committee”. Most experienced employees enjoy autonomy in their tasks – link that to their safety performance.
Getting ahead of the problem is always better than reacting to one, and safety issues amplify this effect. Lower your liabilities and show your employees that you care by focusing on safety at your business.