One vital consideration for anyone going into business is how their operation will comply with workplace safety regulations set forth by the federal government, namely those outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Any well-versed business plan consultant can advise you about the requirements and how they will affect your business, but performing some early research to determine the extent of your liability as an employer, the recordkeeping standards you will have to maintain, and the punishments you could face for repeated and/or serious violations is more than just a good idea—it is truly a necessity. When it comes to OSHA small business compliance, knowing where you stand is essential. Luckily, there are several solid resources to guide you.
The most useful resource comes directly from the US government itself. The OSHA website explains that OSHA considers the size of the employer when weighing the fines it will impose; in fact, very small businesses (those with ten or fewer employees) are actually exempt from most recordkeeping requirements for recording/reporting injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace. Moreover, an employer with only 25 or fewer employees can receive a 60% reduction in any penalty proposed, just by virtue of being a small business; even a business with as many as 250 employees may be eligible for a 20% penalty fee reduction. Because of the potential benefit you could reap from these relaxed regulations, you should verify with a business plan consultant that you are accurately describing the size of your company in any document you prepare.
OSHA also offers free consultations (which may or may not obviate the need to meet with a business plan consultant) which can help identify workplace hazards and assess your liability for violations and penalties. There is also a wide variety of programs designed to assist you in remaining compliant and encouraging healthy, safe workplace activities. You can also request the OSHA handbook or arrange to call upon the SBA's Small Business Develop Centers (SBDC) program to furnish information on OSHA and the programs it makes available specifically to small business owners. Lastly, don't forget that any qualified small business plan consultant can direct you toward appropriate resources, if not answer your OSHA concerns outright—just remember to be careful that all of the information you operate on is complete, verifiable, and accurate.
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