If you own or run a business, workplace and employee safety are top priorities. Especially in the skilled trade industry. Yet, knowing how to maintain that safety isn’t always apparent. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provide regulations and guidance on ensuring the safety of all businesses in the country.

At first glance, the rules can seem overbearing to business owners, but adherence comes with great benefits. Plus, OSHA offers useful guidance on reducing workplace injuries and lost workdays. Here are some things you should keep in mind.

A Background on OSHA

At the end of 1970, President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, otherwise known as the Williams-Steiger Act. Among other things, the Act established OSHA within the Department of Labor in 1971. 

Since then, OSHA has reduced workplace fatalities and occupational injury and illness rates by 60% and 40%, respectively. The organization is responsible for establishing workplace safety regulations, performing health and safety inspections, and equipping employers and employees with safety training. Plus, OSHA helps companies comply with its regulations.

The Financial Benefits of OSHA Compliance

Obviously, the primary benefit of OSHA compliance is the health and well-being of your workforce. Following guidelines that keep them safe, happy, and productive is simply the right thing to do. However, meeting OSHA’s workplace safety standards also makes fiscal sense for employers:

  • In California, businesses inspected by OSHA saved roughly $355,000 in injury claims compensation paid for lost work after inspections.
  • Throughout the United States, the total cost of work injuries in 2021 was $167 billion, which included $47.4 billion in wage and productivity losses.
  • Companies who don’t properly manage workplace safety could potentially lag competitors who do.
  • 60% of CFOs reported every $1 invested in injury prevention returned $2 or more.

Safety Programs for Small Businesses

Since complying with OSHA regulations is so important, the Department of Labor and OSHA make it easy for business owners—especially those of small businesses—to establish proper workplace safety programs. In fact, OSHA is legally obligated to assist small businesses in maintaining compliance. Here are a few ways they can help:

Workplace Safety Guides

The Department of Labor frequently updates and provides simple guides on how employers and employees can comply with OSHA standards. 

Training for Employers and Employees

OSHA helps small businesses avoid fines by offering free consultations and training to teach businesses to recognize and remedy workplace dangers.

Reduced Fines and Exemptions

Some OSHA regulations don’t apply to small businesses. And when they do commit infractions, small businesses pay reduced fine amounts.

Helping Employees Keep Cool

In places like Texas, employees who work outdoors are exposed to heat-related workplace injuries that businesses must also navigate. Each year, 9,235 people on average are hospitalized and more than 700 deaths occur in the U.S. due to the effects of intense heat. So far this year, 13 Texans have died.

Regional climates aside, workers can also experience heat-related illnesses if they work in hot environments with limited airflow. Kitchen staff, miners, and factory workers are all susceptible to heat stress and injury that can be costly to businesses.

Fortunately, OSHA has specific guidelines for heat safety. It’s important for businesses to take into consideration the seasonal and environmental factors that put their workplaces at risk—and have an action plan to prevent or treat those specific injuries.

Ignoring Workplace Safety Has Long-Term Costs

Working with OSHA and maintaining compliance not only helps businesses avoid violations, fines, and employee injuries, but it also preserves your business’ long-term bottom line. Oftentimes, however, researching updated OSHA guidelines—and adhering to them—can be a large undertaking for small businesses. 

A full-service professional employer organization (PEO) like SWBC PEO can integrate with a business to assist with burdensome HR tasks related to employee safety and workers’ compensation insurance claims. With the support of SWBC PEO, our clients’ leadership can focus on core business activities while leveraging our team of safety consultants to help ensure OSHA work and safety compliance.