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3 safety tips for small businesses

For many small businesses there's no such thing as the lazy, hazy days of summer. This time of year is as busy as or busier than any other, which makes staying on top of safety tricky to manage.

It can be hard to stay on top of health and safety, especially if you're busy running a small business. Save yourself time and effort with WSPS' Small Business Centre. It will help you understand the key pieces of a health and safety program and provide you with tools and resources to develop one of your own. Here are three ways your small business can navigate health and safety challenges.

  1. Download the Safety Checklist. It covers core elements of a health and safety program, so completing it gives you a sense of possible gaps in your program and what’s needed to stay on track. Choose from one of three checklists, depending on the size of your business (1-5 employees, 6-19, or 20-49) and use the results to put together an action plan.
  2. Train your worker health and safety representative. A knowledgeable health and safety representative (HSR) will provide tremendous value to your business. While HSR training is not mandatory, it makes sense for HSRs to understand their role in supporting a health and safety program through hazard identification and recommendations to the employer. An effective HSR will strengthen your internal responsibility system. Find information and online HSR training in the Small Business Centre H&S Rep & Inspections section (Safety Road Map for 6-19 employees). 
  3. Identify hazards and higher risk jobs or tasks. This allows you to put together a plan and allocate resources where they're needed most, so you can minimize the risk of injury and disruption. Depending on the nature of your workplace, you may have any of these six types of hazards:
    • biological (bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans),
    • chemical (gases, vapours, dust and fumes),
    • musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs),
    • physical (electricity, extreme temperatures, noise, vibration, radiation, magnetic fields, etc.),
    • psychosocial (conditions or activities that affect physical, mental and/or emotional wellbeing, such as harassment, stress, violence, etc.),
    • safety (slipping/tripping hazards, inappropriate machine guarding, equipment malfunctions, etc.).

Hazards can be controlled at the source (through elimination, substitution or isolation), along the path or at the worker. Not sure how to assess hazards? Find a hazard assessment tool in the Small Business Centre. Click on Hazards under the safety roadmap for your company size.

Here's a sampling of other resources you'll find at WSPS' Small Business Centre:

  • duties and responsibilities video,
  • first aid kit requirements checklist,
  • orientation training checklist,
  • training tips for workers,
  • WHMIS information,
  • workplace inspection checklist,
  • workplace violence and harassment policy templates.

Know a small business or are a small business owner who makes their workplace healthy and safe and inspires peers by example? Submit a nomination for WSIB's Small Business Health and Safety Leadership Awards which recognizes outstanding health and safety programs in small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Check out our the Small Business Centre for simple safety solutions. For questions, 877-494-WSPS (9777).