7 Tips to Secure Workplace Safety On A Small Business Budget

By Mikaela Delia

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One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face is ensuring the safety and health of their employees. Limited budgets and resources restrict the amount of time and devotion that small businesses can spend maintaining compliant workplace safety. Because of this, workplace safety is a growing concern among small business owners. Specifically, 35 percent of the small business owners surveyed said workplace safety is what they worry about most, compared with just 26 percent who are concerned about professional-liability risks [1].

Fear not, small business owners! For you are every bit as important as your corporate counterparts in providing jobs and contributing the economy, and despite common belief, you don't need a huge budget to maintain safety and health in your workplace. Manifesting a work environment that puts safety first and actively looks to eliminate risks is inexpensive and easy. Here are 7 tips to secure safety and health in your workplace on a small business budget.

1. Know the Rules and Regulations

Small businesses are held to different standards than large corporations are. They've been specified by OSHA to accommodate a smaller work-space and staff. The very first thing you should do in your quest to secure workplace safety in your company is to educate yourself on current and updated OSHA small business safety standards. Once you know exactly what constitutes workplace safety for your company size, you can actively take the steps necessary to satisfy them.

Free Resource: OSHA Small Business Handbook

2.  Know the Most Common Safety Concerns

Knowing the most common safety concerns for small businesses is vital in eliminating the risks they pose on your establishment. Additionally,  prioritizing safety risks can help you distribute your safety resources to areas that may pose more threat. According to National Safety Council Safety Consultants, the seven most common safety hazards in 2016 were:

Working at Heights- Lack of or improper use of fall protection equipment
Poor Housekeeping- Exposed wires, clutter blocking emergency exits, exposed machinery, etc.
Electrical (Extensions Cords)- Over use of extension cords, too many cords, extension cord tripping hazards, etc.
Forklifts- Improper training, taking "short-cuts" to get done quickly, negligence, etc.
Lockout/Tagout- Complacency, rushing to get done, unfamiliarity with the equipment, etc.
Chemicals- Improper chemical labeling, expired and unstable chemicals, disposable, transferring chemicals, etc.
Confined Spaces- Unstable atmosphere, collapses, etc. [2]

Free Resource: OSHA Hazard Identification Training Tool

3. Conduct A Safety Audit

Now that you're an expert in identifying safety hazards that may be lurking in your business (Woohoo! Watch out, OSHA!) you can conduct your own safety audit. Audits of work sites are conducted for the purpose of health, safety, and fire hazard identification. During these surveys, assessments are made for compliance to applicable building and fire codes and the detection of unsafe hazards (safetyinfo.com).

Free Resource: How to Conduct A Health and Safety Audit

4. Safety Train + PPE

No, the safety train isn't a hip, happenin' locomotive filled with funky music and groovy dance moves (you're thinking Soul Train). What I really mean is safety training your employees. Workplace safety training and education is one of the best investments in your business you can make. Safety training employees is guaranteed to eliminate risks, hazards, and risky behavior that could lead to costly OSHA violations and fines. In addition, Safety training can eliminate costly business insurance claims and the chance of a crippling lawsuit. While small business owners should undoubtedly strive to keep their employees safe and healthy, safety training is vital in protecting the best interest of your business. Safety training your employees can be costly, but there are TONS of free resources online to assist you in training your employees, anything from PowerPoints to quizzes and checklists. If there is a specific area that requires costly training, then spend the money on a safety training DVD that you can keep using. In addition to safety training, your employees need to have the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) related to their job. PPE can be costly, but it's necessary for the prevention of major accidents or long-term harm to your employees. Know exactly what equipment is needed for your employees, and invest in it. It's well worth it.

Free Resource: Atlantic Training's Blog- Free Safety Training Materials (PowerPoints, Safety Checklists, Toolbox Talks and More)

Free Resource: OSHA PPE- What Employers Do and Do Not to Pay For

5. Post Reminders in Your Workplace

The world works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, that poster or flyer that you've seen a million times will especially jump out at you when you need it to. Posters and reminders are an excellent way to remind employees about workplace health and safety. We've all seen the "employees must wash hands" reminder in the bathroom. Take a que from that little reminder and post them around your business. Don't make the reminders or the posters overly-aggressive, or asking them to do something. For example, "Caution: Slippery area. Slip-resistant shoes are mandatory". This type of reminder is almost guaranteed to have an employee saying "ugh, I know. I'm not dumb." in their minds, rather than actually immersing themselves in the message. Rather, make them supportive, positive, short, and fun! "Slip resistant shoes will help prevent a bruise" or "Caution: Slips known to happen here" accompanied with a funny image. Using memes are another fun, entertaining way to help raise safety awareness. Having the right language in your reminders and posters can undoubtedly influence your employees' reaction to them.

Inexpensive Funny Safety Posters: Zazzle Funny Safety Posters

Free Resource: Meme Generator- Create Your Own Meme

6. Host Toolbox Talks 

A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. These tools can be used daily to promote your departments safety culture. Toolbox talks are also intended to facilitate health and safety discussions on the job site [3]. Getting employees engaged in toolbox talks and discussions can help keep relevant safety information on the top of the brain. They're brief but unbelievably productive, so making time during the day for a 15 minute discussion can immensely contribute to a safety conscious workplace. You also learn about safety hazards you may not have known about from your employees.

Free Resource: Directory of Free Safety Toolbox Talks

7. Don't Be Concerned

Bottom line, if you're showing concern or are worried about the safety in your business, not only are you attracting safety hazards to your door through the Law of Attraction, but it means that you aren't satisfied with the amount or the value of your safety procedures. Here are some final thoughts for manifesting safety in your workplace:

  • Sure, stuff happens that's totally out of the blue and unexpected. But, you chip away the chances of that happening each and every time you engage in an action that promotes safety in your workplace.
  • Be proactive, and not reactive.
  • Be pro-safety, and not anti-accident.
  • Use the TONS of free resources out there to not only educate yourself about workplace safety, but to help transfer that information to your employees.
  • Do your best to help the message of "Safety" resonate with your employees.
  • Remain alert, not concerned.
  • You can ALWAYS afford ANYTHING that actively helps your business be safe and healthy. What you CAN'T afford is a hefty fine or crippling lawsuit due to safety negligence.

Now get out there, and show 'em what you got!

-Mikaela Delia


[1] Brooks, Chad. "Worker Safety a Top Small Business Concern." Business News Daily. Purch, 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

[2] Morrison, Kyle M. "7 Common Workplace Safety Hazards." Safety Health. Safety Health Magazine, 22 May 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

[3] "Toolbox Talks." Harvard Environmental Health and Safety. Harvard Campus Services, 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.


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