Updated OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook


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 OSHANIOSH/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.

Courtesy of AmTrust

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