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August 09, 2021
OSHA, NIOSH update small business guide

On August 3, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced the release of a revised Small Business Safety and Health Handbook (OSHA Publication Number 2209-07R 2021, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2021-120), produced in collaboration with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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“Small businesses face many unique challenges and providing a safe and healthy work environment shouldn’t be one of them,” NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said in a statement. “The updated Small Business Handbook is an easy-to-use tool to help keep your most valuable asset—your employees—safe and healthy on the job.”

The handbook includes self-inspection checklists for employers to identify workplace hazards and lists of OSHA and NIOSH resources available to help employers recognize and correct safety and health hazards in their workplace, including OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program. The self-inspection checklists cover topics such as fire protection, hazard communication, lockout/tagout procedures, materials handling and powered industrial trucks, noise exposure, permit-required confined spaces, respiratory protection, and walking-working surfaces. The checklists cover work processes in general industry workplaces and are not intended for construction and maritime employers.

The handbook also provides employers with information on professional occupational safety and health associations, with local chapters that small businesses can join, whistleblower protection laws, and training through OSHA’s education centers.

The handbook also outlines the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) review process, the federal mechanism for small business input on developing new regulations.

Safe + Sound Week

OSHA invited employers to observe its Safe + Sound Week August 9–15. The agency’s co-sponsors of the nationwide event recognizing the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offering information and suggestions for keeping workers safe include NIOSH, as well as the AIHA (formerly the American Industrial Hygiene Association), the American Society of Safety Professional (ASSP), the CPWR (the labor union-affiliated  Center for Construction Research and Training), the National Safety Council (NSC), and the Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA).

“Each year, millions of workers suffer job-related injuries or illnesses, and thousands die in work-related incidents,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health James Frederick said in an agency statement. “These incidents hurt workers and their families, and harm businesses as well.”

The elements of OSHA’s Safe + Sound campaign include fostering management commitment and leadership, worker participation, and finding and fixing hazards. Resources include the ASSP’s “Keep Your People Safe in Smaller Organizations” manual, brochures, OSHA’s recommended practices for safety and health programs, and webinars from OSHA and its partners, as well as OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program.

Find and fix hazards resources include OSHA’s Hazard Identification Tool and the agency’s “That Was No Accident! Using Your OSHA 300 Log to Improve Safety and Health” and “Walk-Arounds for Safety Officers” fact sheets.

Successful safety and health programs can identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, according to the agency, as well as increase worker satisfaction and improve productivity while reducing the costs associated with workplace injuries. Last year, more than 3,400 businesses helped raise awareness about workers’ safety and health.

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