OSHA Thinks 'Small', Hopes for Big Results

Small businesses will get a boost from a new partnership designed to help them improve their safety and health performance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) and the Department of Labor's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) have entered into a partnership agreement to help small businesses improve their safety and health performance.

The partnership is a comprehensive effort to improve the safety and health performance of small businesses that receive outreach and training services. The agreement also aims to increase small business participation in OSHA technical assistance and cooperative programs.

"This partnership sets in motion a new working relationship that addresses safety and health issues unique to our nation's small businesses," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Together, we can make a real difference by delivering the training and outreach small businesses need to improve their safety and health programs."

The partners will identify interested small businesses that wish to learn more about safety and health, need assistance with program development, or wish to be recognized through OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) or the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) which is designed for small businesses that undergo free comprehensive safety and health consultation.

"This partnership unites the nationwide management and technical assistance infrastructure of America's Small Business Development Center Network with the expertise and capabilities of OSHA and DOL's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP)," said ASBDC President Donald Wilson. "ASBDC is confident, that working cooperatively, this partnership can help address the compliance assistance needs of small business owners, improve awareness of OSHA regulations in the small business community and enhance worker safety and health."

OSBP Director June Robinson said the agreement "directly supports the Department's commitment of shifting the emphasis of regulatory programs from after-the-fact enforcement to compliance assistance and prevention, and nurtures our on-going efforts to build results-oriented partnerships with the small business community."

  • The partnership objectives include:
  • Awareness: Develop an efficient and effective means for communicating occupational safety and health information and resource options to the small business community.
  • Referrals and Assistance: Facilitate the use of and participation in OSHA's cooperative programs.
  • Training: Identify and target interested small businesses for safety and health training on OSHA requirements and the elements of effective safety and health management systems.
  • Improved Performance: Demonstrate a positive impact on worker safety and health for businesses participating in activities provided through the partnership.

The initial phase of the partnership will focus on providing information and training regarding OSHA's new recordkeeping standard. A pilot training program for recordkeeping will be developed and then offered at SBDC's in selected key states.

The agreement signed is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov under "What's New."

edited by Sandy Smith (ssmith@penton.com)

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