OSHA Requirements Small Business Owners Must Know

Being a small business owner or boss is a privilege, but it also carries a lot of weight and responsibility. Per the law, the onus is on businesses and property owners to maintain their places of work or property so that they don’t put the safety of employees and visitors at risk. 

Suppose you are an aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner. In that case, here are some basic Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements you need to be aware of.

What is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)?

In 1970, the United States Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to ensure that employees and workers are given the right to work in safe and hazard-free workplace conditions. The law also paved the way for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is tasked to enforce the law and to enforce the health and safety standards that the law set.

The following are the basic OSHA requirements for small businesses:

Fire safety

If the nature of your business involves exposing your employees to the following:

  • Metallurgy
  • Flammable vapors or gases, or combustible dust 
  • Petrochemicals
  • Combustible materials as a product or by-product

Then you need to ensure that you protect your employees with some personal protective equipment (PPE) or a flame-resistant (FR) suit or gear. Moreover, you would also need to draw up a written fire safety plan that details the steps your entire organization must take in case a fire takes place. There must be emergency fire exits in your place of work, and they must always be free from obstructions.

Fire extinguishers are not necessarily mandated by OSHA. But your company would benefit so much from the peace of mind you will gain if you have some in your place of business. Train yourself and your team on how to use them properly so that you can effectively combat small fires before they escalate.

Emergency plans

Speaking of fire emergency plans, you need to establish a general emergency plan in case any of the following takes place:

  • Natural disasters occur like an earthquake, typhoon, flood, and others.
  • An active shooter suddenly comes on-site, or if someone announces a robbery or brings deadly weapons to your place of work.

There are plenty of emergency scenarios that you and your team would need to be ready for. So consider hiring a disaster risk reduction expert to help you draw up emergency exit plans that can help keep you and your team safe. 

Freedom from harmful chemicals

Another vital factor mandated by OSHA is for workplaces to be free from hazardous materials and chemicals. And even if they are present because they are needed for the business to run, employers need to ensure that the members of their organization receive the necessary and appropriate training. They must know the proper handling and use of these materials and chemicals. The guidelines must be established and defined.


Another way OSHA intends to protect employees’ safety interests is by requiring proper recordkeeping and posting requirements, which take note of every work-related illness or injury that employees and former employees might experience. OSHA’s poster called Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law is a helpful resource, not to mention required posting in your workplace’s conspicuous spaces. 

OSHA also has an on-site consultation program for business owners who have more specific questions. At its heart, the administration wants business owners to focus more on prevention and disaster risk reduction instead of simply addressing injuries and damages when they happen. Business owners would be wise to avail themselves of their consultation offerings and the safety programs that the administration provides.

First aid

Another essential safety feature that the OSHA requires of small businesses is first aid. That means that places of work must be equipped with basic medical supplies should the need for them arise. The supplies in the kit must be directly related to the potential hazards that might take place in the specific business.

For example, if your small business is a restaurant or a kitchen, you might want to have plenty of medical supplies that can treat cuts and burns. If it’s a public pool, your lifeguards must be trained in CPR and other life-saving techniques.

Being a business owner also entails being responsible for the safety of your employees. With this, you must take their health and protection seriously. Consult with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that you remain compliant every step of the way. Good luck!

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