Think your company with fewer than 10 employees doesn’t have to worry about OSHA standards? Times have changed! If your small company is engaged in certain types of business – especially if your business has the potential to cause a catastrophic occurrence – you’re on OSHA’s radar!
ANY Business is Subject to OSHA Standards
The fertilizer company in West, Texas that experienced the explosion of ammonium nitrate fertilizer last year employed only eight workers. Since the explosion was responsible for the deaths of volunteer firefighters who rushed to the scene and destroyed or seriously damaged hundreds of homes, schools, and businesses in the small central Texas town, OSHA has changed their position on smaller companies.
Basically, OSHA has the authority to inspect ANY business that operates on US soil – regardless of size. If your business is a dental practice with only three employees, OSHA is not likely to target you for an unannounced compliance audit. However if your small company is engaged in the transport of hazardous materials on public roads, the possibility of an unannounced compliance audit by OSHA increases exponentially…
Aside from the type of business you do, there are three other reasons why OSHA might knock on your door. First, if your company experiences a fatal accident, you are bound by law to report the fatality to OSAH within 24 hours of the occurrence. Second, if you experience a serious injury incident in which three or more employees require treatment at a hospital ER, you also must call OSHA to report the incident within 24 hours. Third, if a disgruntled employee alleges a serious violation of OSHA standards by calling OSHA to complain, you will likely be contacted by the local OSHA office in your area.
Some state OSHA organizations like California have reporting rules that are much more stringent than federal OSHA. To avoid an unpleasant (and costly) interaction with OSHA in your state, it pays to know your state’s regulations regarding reporting of serious injuries.
The Best Defense
Like the famous football coach Vince Lombardi said, “The best defense if a good offense”. Being aware of the OSHA standards with which your business must comply is a good first step. Having a written safety program that contains rules for your employees to follow in all work situations will help ensure compliance with OSHA standards. Holding employees, supervisors, and managers accountable when the rules are broken will also serve your business well should OSHA get involved.
If you’re not sure where you stand with OSHA, Employers Resource can help! Our Safety Managers assist our clients – regardless of their size with training and safety programs that meet or exceed OSHA requirements. We perform safety audits at client locations to first determine what OSHA standards apply and then to develop and implement safety programs that help ensure compliance. To learn more about how Employers Resource can assist your business in being OSHA compliant, give us a call.