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How to Perform an Effective Safety Audit of your Small Business

Can you name the top three most frequently cited safety standards by Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in fiscal year 2013?

If you answered fall protection, hazard communication, and scaffolding then you were correct! Out of 3,945 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2012, 775 or 19.6% were in construction

These statistics remind us that managing the risks involved in operating your business can be more than just paperwork. Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. One way to make sure the environment is safe is to conduct a safety audit.  

How to perform a safety audit of your small business. Image “Baby with hard hat, 1959” by Seattle Municipal Archives is licensed CC BY 2.0

What is a business safety audit?

Safety audits are a tested and proven method to ensure that small businesses have the right programs in place to reduce incidents and risk to their workers. 

The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a small business handbook on safety and management that outlines (in many, many details) how to create, develop, and implement your safety and health management plan. 

If you take a look, and it seems complicated (maybe even overwhelming) we’re here for you. Contact GMS about our comprehensive risk management services, including OSHA compliance and safety training & inspection

We can help you identify and avoid risks, where possible, and help you prepare for and respond to the unexpected.

Small Business Safety Audit Scope

Your self-inspection should cover safety and health issues in the following areas:

  • Processing, Receiving, Shipping and Storage
  • Building and Grounds Conditions
  • Housekeeping Program
  • Electricity
  • Lighting
  • Heating and Ventilation
  • Machinery
  • Personnel
  • Hand and Power Tools
  • Chemicals
  • Fire Prevention
  • Maintenance
  • PPE
  • Transportation
  • First Aid Program/Supplies
  • Evacuation Plan

After reviewing the general issue areas, we pulled a few topics and a key question from the checklists to show what to look for in your own safety audits. Once you take a look at the full list you can see how detailed and involved a safety inspection can be.

Examples of Self-Inspection Checklists 

Employer Posting
Are emergency telephone numbers posted where they can be readily found in case of emergency?

Safety and Health Program
Do you have an active safety and health program in operation that includes general safety and health program elements, as well as, the management of hazards specific to your work-site?

Medical Services & First Aid
Is there a hospital or clinic near your workplace or is there at least one employee on each shift currently qualified to render first aid?

Fire Protection
If you have a fire alarm system, is it certified, as required? Is it tested annually?

Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing
Are hard hats required, provided and worn where danger of falling objects exists?

General Work Environment
Are all worksites clean, sanitary and orderly?

Exiting or Egress- Evacuation
Are all exits marked with an exit sign and illuminated by a reliable light source? Are doors, passageways or stairways that look like but are not actually exits clearly marked as non-exits?

And the list goes on. These lists are by no means all-inclusive and you should add to them or delete items that do not apply to your business. 

Our ultimate goal is to help you provide your employees with a safe, healthy workplace.  Learn more about how GMS can protect your company from risk today.

What do you think are the biggest safety concerns for small businesses? Let us know in the comments below.

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