Startups range in size and scope, from one or two people up to a couple dozen or more. You might manufacture a product using machines and tools, or you might conduct business solely via computers and desks.
Regardless, such a small workforce isn’t impermeable to safety-related accidents in the workplace. If you want to see your workers go home happy and healthy at the end of the day, and if you want to reduce your liability, starting a safety program simply makes sense.
Why Does a Startup Need a Safety Program?
When you have employees, you are responsible for their safety on the job. There isn’t a single line of work that’s 100% void of safety issues. Even sitting at a desk all day can lead to poor ergonomic conditions. If you’re not sure if or when you should start a safety program in your startup, these five reasons can give some insight:
It’s Legally Required in Some Cases
As a new company, you may not know much about OSHA, but you will. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that all companies, regardless of size or type of work, achieve certain safety standards in the workplace. Of course, your requirements will depend on your business and the size of your workforce, but you can count on having to uphold some requirements. These may be as simple as maintaining training compliance or displaying the required safety notices and posters in the workplace.
In addition to federal regulations, you may also be subject to state or local requirements for workplace safety. These requirements will vary by area, so make sure you do your due diligence to remain compliant and avoid fines.
It Helps Build Your Company Culture
Building a safety-focused culture can be critical to a startup’s success. When a safety culture is at the forefront of operations, you’re better able to mitigate the risk of workplace accidents. Your workers approach their duties with safety in mind and perform their work carefully, report potential hazards, and look for ways to improve workplace safety.
It Sets the Right Tone from the Beginning
Implementing a safety program in your startup is often viewed as an afterthought, but it shouldn’t be. Rather, when you have safety procedures, training, and expectations from the start, it can help you send the right message early. This can help your safety program to become more widely adopted and supported.
It’s usually easier to form good habits from the start rather than switching to a change in the lineup. Your startup will likely undergo a series of changes as you tweak and refine your business, so starting a safety program as soon as possible takes away one thing your team will have to accommodate later.
It Makes Financial Sense
With already-limited funds, startups generally count every penny to ensure their viability in the market. But a single workplace accident that requires medical attention or missed days of work can force startups to take a financial hit. Studies show that most companies see a return on investment of about $4 to $6 for every $1 they spend on creating a safety program.
It Sends a Message to Your People
If you want to attract and retain top talent, a safety program can be an effective tool. Safety programs are great ways to show your people you genuinely care about their well-being at work. It proves you’re committed to their success, as well as the success of your company.
And truth be told, no one wants to work for a company that doesn’t put their employees best interests first.
How to Start a Safety Program from Scratch
Beginning a brand new safety program can be a challenging process, especially if you want to ensure you’re meeting all regulatory requirements.
OSHA offers assistance in ensuring you understand compliance requirements and can be a great starting resource. But remember, it’s not just about meeting others’ expectations. Your company has unique factors that should be addressed. Instead of focusing just on OSHA, also look at your operations as a whole and identify areas that can benefit from a safety culture.
For more information on creating a safer work environment, visit EHS Insight for best practices, EHS software tips and more.