Agency forum addresses compliance challenges facing small businesses
The forum was the ninth in the "Business of Small Business Series," which provide a venue for employers to obtain safety and health management information. At the seminars, 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.
Nicholas Owens, national ombudsman for the Small Business Administration, discussed the role of the agency 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 talked about the tools and resources the agency provides to make compliance easier and more business-friendly.
Elyce Biddle, senior economist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, also discussed OSHA's role in offering small businesses a helping hand with regulatory compliance. She outlined 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, which helps employers estimate the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Vincent Santoro, vice president of global manufacturing for Ideal Jacobs Corp., said his company has benefitted from OSHA's on-site consultation program, which addressed work site hazards and helped the screen printing manufacturer correct the issues. Santoro said the company is also a member of OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program. SHARP recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management program. Businesses accepted into the program are considered models for work site safety and health.
"Customers look at a company differently when they see it takes safety seriously," he said. "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."
December 2, 2008
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