Electronic tools helping small businesses evaluate workplace safety and health management programs was among the topics presented at a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) forum “Challenges Small Businesses Face in Complying with Regulations,” according to a recent agency press release.

The ninth in the “Business of Small Business Series,” these forums provide another venue for small businesses to obtain safety and health management information. Topics ranging from teen summer job safety to lean manufacturing are presented to an average of 40-50 attendees. Speakers from government agencies and private industry share guidance, resources and best practices to help small businesses implement and improve on their safety and health management systems.

Speaker Nicholas Owens, national ombudsman for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), discussed the role of the SBA as a liaison between small businesses and regulatory agencies. Fairness in enforcement, Owens said, was a major concern as it relates to small business compliance with regulations. He acknowledged OSHA’s commitment to regulatory fairness and noted the tools and resources the agency provides to make compliance easier and more business-friendly.

The message that OSHA offers small businesses a helping hand with regulatory compliance was emphasized by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) senior economist Elyce Biddle. She discussed a series of electronic tools that businesses can use to determine costs associated with implementing safety and health systems. Included was OSHA’s “$afety Pays” program that helps employers estimate the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses. Biddle said this tool is one of the resources OSHA offers to minimize challenges small employers face with regulatory compliance.

Compliance with federal regulations was less complicated for the Ideal Jacobs Corporation, a screen printing manufacturer. Vincent Santoro, vice president of global manufacturing, acknowledged his company benefitted from OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program addressing worksite hazards that were identified and subsequently corrected.

As a member of OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), Santoro said, “Customers look at a company differently when they see it takes safety seriously. SHARP made us think about everything from a different perspective. Is what you’re paying for safety worth it? Of course, it’s always worth it,” he said.

SHARP recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management program. Businesses accepted into the program are considered models for worksite safety and health.