Because Accidents Can Happen Anywhere: OSHA Rules Apply to Startups

January 30, 2013 - On its Inc.Well blog, illuminates a grey area of OSHA regulation for small businesses: OSHA rules apply to any company of any size, from day one, where there is an established employer-employee relationship. The only exception is that businesses with 10 or fewer employees are waived from the record-keeping requirements on losses and injuries.

"One of the problems with small business in general is when you get a business license, you don't get a packet or a booklet that says 'these are all the rules that apply to you,'" said Woody Hill, former associate industrial hygienist at the California Division of OSHA. "There's not enough education or awareness out there about what the requirements are for new business owners. Small businesses generally don't know about [OSHA compliance] until they're impacted by a complaint or some sort of notice from OSHA that they're violating the rules."

In addition to lack of awareness, OSHA rules vary by state. "The minute you have an employer-employee established position in any company, you have to have comp — with the exception of taxes if they're in an exempt state," Hill said. "And you have to have controls in place to provide a safer workplace. Even if you're very good at what you do, you may not be very good at recognizing hazards and you may not know the rules about complying with them."

In order to become more informed, Hill suggests small business owners ask their insurance carriers to clarify what services are available to them, and how to maintain compliance. He also cites the "excellent" Federal OSHA program supporting small business, and recommends further inquiry through professional associations and Internet research. These are "all tools that small businesses should really be addressing," Hill said. "Just like you would do anything when you're preparing a business plan for a new venture, think about regulatory compliance.

To read the entire article

Carnow Conibear and Associates is a demonstrated leader in the occupational and environmental health professions since 1975. To find out more, click here or call us at (800) 860-4486.