Although they are often described as the backbone of the U.S. economy, small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with worksite safety and health issues: they often do not have staff dedicated to the subject.
A new resource recently released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) promises to help small business owners navigate the maze of available occupational safety and health information. The Small Business Safety and Health Resource Guide is intended to assist time-pressed small business owners find resources on regulations, training materials, and recommendations.
The US Department of Commerce reports that 70% of workplaces employ fewer than 20 people. Yet these companies, on average, suffer higher fatality rates compared to larger organizations according to a 2006 RAND report. Worksite safety and health is often delegated to the Human Resources Director or other staff who have additional job duties. This may create a barrier for small businesses trying to sift through technical safety and health documents to understand what information is critical for them to know.
“Small businesses play a key role in our economy, yet they face many challenges in ensuring the safety and health of their workforce,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This guide serves as a critical resource for small business and as an example of how NIOSH works with our partners to ensure the safety and health of all workers.”
The Small Business Safety and Health Resource Guide contains summaries of and links to more than 50 websites produced by commercial, academic, and government organizations. Each resource included was reviewed for relevance, ease of use, cost, and credibility. Based on readers’ feedback and their use of the guide, NIOSH will continue to update it to keep it current.
NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The NIOSH Small Business portfolio’s focus is to minimize and eliminate occupational illnesses, injuries, and hazardous exposures in small enterprises through a focused program of research, prevention efforts, and public health activities. For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ and www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/smbus/.