Updated OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: Experts from OSHA, CDC/NIOSH and AmTrust share how to use the Small Business Safety and Health Handbook to lower risk and improve your workplace safety.

OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook Webinar

Small business owners want to ensure their workers go home safe and healthy at the end of the day. However, small businesses tend to experience higher workplace injury and illness rates than larger businesses. The volume of safety and health information, regulations and guidance can feel overwhelming, and many of the topics can be complex. With the updated OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook, small business owners have access to self-inspection checklists to support safe practices in the workplace.

Experts from OSHA, NIOSH/CDC and AmTrust recently presented the webinar, Updated OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook: Making Workplaces Safer. They shared helpful information for employers in the general industry sector and explained how to get free resources and services from their organizations.

What is the Small Business Safety and Health Handbook?

The original OSHA Small Business Safety and Health Handbook came out around 20 years ago as a resource to help busy small business owners improve their workplace safety processes. Today, it is one of OSHA’s most popular resources. The 2021 refresh rebranded the handbook with NIOSH, an occupational safety and health research institute within the CDC. Experts from OSHA and NIOSH gave feedback, updates and approvals to the updated handbook.

The handbook has three major parts:
  • Summary of benefits of safety and health programs with guidance on how to implement or improve those programs
  • Self-inspection checklists
  • Industry best practices and other resources for small businesses

David Lawhorn, Director of Loss Control at AmTrust, agrees that the handbook is key to helping a business identify their risks, saying, “It is a great resource that pinpoints a lot of the risks that we see and addresses them.”

Managing Risks in the Workplace

Brenda Jacklitsch, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (or NIOSH) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sees a lot of data related to workplace safety and how that impacts workers’ compensation. She explains, “The severity of workers’ compensation claims can be measured in several ways, including loss time status, days away from work and medical costs.

As technology and automation evolved for small business production, safety measures, such as proper machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures, to protect the workers also had to improve.

OSHA Violations

OSHA enforces workplace safety by inspecting businesses, including inspections in response to employee safety complaints. The inspections may identify OSHA workplace safety regulation violations that range from minor to very hazardous.

The Top Ten violations in general industry for 2021 were:
  1. Hazard Communication
  2. Respiratory Protection
  3. Control of Hazardous Energy, Lockout/Tagout
  4. Powered Industrial Trucks
  5. Machine Guarding
  6. Electrical, General Requirements
  7. Wiring Methods, Components, and Equipment for General Use
  8. PPE, General Requirements
  9. Fall Protection and Falling Object Protection
  10. Portable Fire Extinguishers

The most common OSHA violations have checklists in the Small Business Safety and Health Handbook, including the list above. The checklists have resources that link to the OSHA Regulations and tips to remediate the risks.

Resources Available to Small Businesses

Many workplace safety and risk management resources are available for free to small business owners. Our experts shared some from their organizations:

OSHA On-site Consultation Program

The OSHA On-site Consultation Program is a free, confidential occupational safety and health service for small and medium-sized businesses, prioritizing high hazard industries. The program is found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several territories and operated by state agencies or universities with funding from OSHA. The OSHA Consultation Program conducts 25,000 to 30,000 visits a year, although that number dipped to 17,000 in the past few years due to COVID-19. The number of visits includes both initial and follow-ups.

The On-site Consultation Program, which focuses on compliance assistance, is separate from OSHA’s enforcement efforts. The program can help businesses with the following:
  • Safety and or health visits
  • Hazard assessments
  • Industrial hygiene surveys
  • Safety and health program assessments
  • Workers’ training and education

Another free tool is OSHA’s Safety Pays, which allows employers to see the impact of one workplace injury on their businesses. The program uses a company’s profit margin, the average cost of an injury or illness and an indirect cost multiplier to project the number of sales a company would need to cover the workplace incident cost.

Barney Lawrence from OSHA’s Office of Small Business Assistance shared, “I appreciated the opportunity to highlight the OSHA/NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook and the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program to AmTrust’s agents and clients. I hope that small businesses will take advantage of these resources as they work to provide safe workplaces for their employees.”

OSHA Training Resources

OSHA provides many workplace safety training resources for small to mid-sized businesses. Barney provides some helpful OSHA training resources below:
  • OSHA has an Outreach Training Program under which OSHA authorized trainers provide 10- and 30-hour classes. This training does not fulfill the training requirements in OSHA standards but provides workers with training on the recognition, avoidance, abatement and prevention of workplace hazards.
  • OSHA authorizes Education Centers around the country to provide workplace safety and health training for employers.
  • The OSHA publications Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Resource for Development and Delivery of Training to Workers offer additional information.
  • Many associations provide industry-specific training for their members.

NIOSH Resources

The NIOSH website, a part of a broader network of CDC webpages, focuses on occupational safety and health. They offer a variety of workplace safety resources such as:
  • Hazards and exposures
  • Chemicals
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Industries and occupations
  • Diseases and injuries
  • Safety and prevention

Their free Health Hazard Evaluation Program helps employers learn whether health hazards are present in the workplace and make recommendations for reducing risks and preventing work-related illness. Every day, the CDC receives on average six letters, 250 emails and answers 1,000 phone calls about safety and health concerns at the workplace. They distribute 24,000 publications with important and valuable information for businesses. Contact CDC-INFO to ask questions and find the latest science-based health resources on more than 750 health topics.

AmTrust Loss Control Resources

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department specializes in risk management solutions to prevent injuries and improve employee safety. There are various free workplace safety resources, commercial property resources and a streaming video library to help business owners mitigate risks and provide a safe work environment.

AmTrust’s Loss Control Team Helps With Risk Mitigation

For more insight into the Small Business Safety and Health Handbook, download the broadcast of the webinar. For more information about AmTrust’s Loss Control Department and our small business insurance solutions, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for a link to any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

Time Zones