OSHA Forum Addresses Small Business Regulation Compliance Challenges

Electronic tools helping small businesses evaluate workplace safety and health management programs were among the topics presented at a recent OSHA forum, "Challenges Small Businesses Face in Complying with Regulations."

The ninth in the "Business of Small Business Series," this forum provided another venue for small businesses to obtain guidance, resources and best practices to help implement and improve on their safety and health management systems.

Speaker Nicholas Owens, national ombudsman for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), discussed the role SBA's role as a liaison between small businesses and regulatory agencies. Fairness in enforcement, Owens said, was a major concern as it relates to small business compliance with regulations. He acknowledged OSHA's commitment to regulatory fairness and noted the tools and resources the agency provides to make compliance easier and more business-friendly.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Senior Economist Elyce Biddle emphasized the message that OSHA offers small businesses a helping hand with regulatory compliance. She discussed a series of electronic tools that businesses can use to determine costs associated with implementing safety and health systems. Included was OSHA's "$afety Pays" program that helps employers estimate the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses. Biddle said this tool is one of the resources OSHA offers to minimize challenges small employers face with regulatory compliance.

Compliance with federal regulations was less complicated for the Ideal Jacobs Corp., a screen-printing manufacturer. Vincent Santoro, vice president of global manufacturing, acknowledged his company benefitted from OSHA's On-site Consultation Program addressing worksite hazards that were identified and subsequently corrected.

As a member of OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), Santoro said, "Customers look at a company differently when they see it takes safety seriously. SHARP made us think about everything from a different perspective. Is what you’re paying for safety worth it? Of course, it's always worth it," he said.

OSHA's series of small businesses forums focus on issues that range from teen summer job safety to lean manufacturing. Speakers from government agencies and private industry give presentations to an average of 40-50 attendees. For more information about OSHA resources for small businesses, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/index.html.

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