Magazine article Occupational Hazards

OSHA and Small Businesses: A Winning Combination: When Small Businesses Tap into OSHA's Many Resources, Everyone Benefits

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

OSHA and Small Businesses: A Winning Combination: When Small Businesses Tap into OSHA's Many Resources, Everyone Benefits

Article excerpt

When it comes to reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace, more and more businesses are turning to OSHA for help.

Just ask Kelly Olivier, environmental, health and safety coordinator at Anthony Forest Products, an integrated forest products company that has saved more than $1 million in the last 5 years (2001 to 2006) by working with OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program. During the same period, the company spent approximately $50,000 on safety improvements and employee training costs.

Founded in 1916, Anthony Forest Products has participated in OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) since 1998 and currently has five SHARP worksites located in three states--Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas--which employ between 10 and 100 employees per worksite. Overall, the company employs approximately 450 people.

"Becoming a member of SHARP has enhanced our company's safety program by involving employees and reducing incidents, which has strengthened already good relationships between management and our employees," Olivier said.

In 2005, the company's laminating plant in Urbana, Ark., logged nearly 212,000 hours without any reportable accidents.

"[Being a member of SHARP] makes you feel the company is serious," Anthony employee Russell Hartley said. "They want a quality operation and that makes you feel secure about your company."

Helping Small Businesses Succeed

Since 1971, OSHA has worked to ensure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.

OSHA has numerous resources available to help small businesses maintain a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 25 million small businesses in the United States employing more than 113 million people.

With such a large number of employees in the small business work force, OSHA has a vested interest in doing everything possible to provide employers with the resources needed to protect each of those employees while they are at work.

On-Site Consultation Program

OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program, funded largely by the agency, is a service provided to employers at no cost. Through this program, employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational safety and health management systems and even qualify for a 1-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

The program primarily is targeted for smaller businesses and is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. During the consultation process, no citations are issued or penalties proposed.

During the five-step consultation process, OSHA provides professional advice and assistance in the correction of workplace hazards and on-site training to help the employer identify workplace hazards and eliminate them. The consultant can help establish or strengthen an employee safety and health program, making safety and health activities routine considerations rather than crisis-oriented responses--which ultimately helps the employer improve operations and management of the organization.

For more information on OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program, visit http://www.osha.gov/consultation.

SHARP

Another program specifically designed for small businesses is SHARP. Working in conjunction with the On-Site Consultation Program, SHARP recognizes small-business employers that operate exemplary safety and health management systems.

Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement of status that singles out employers as models of worksite safety and health. SHARP employers also earn exemptions from programmed inspections during the SHARP certification period. …

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