By now, it is relatively common knowledge that smaller businesses and startups find it more of a strain to organize safety training than large corporations do. As a predictable result, there is a host of research that finds a higher proportion of workplace injuries and fatalities in smaller businesses than larger ones.
Similarly, it has been shown how the rate of injuries and fatalities in new businesses directly relates to its chances of future success. From research into new Canadian businesses, those which stayed afloat for over five years oversaw less than 50% of the workplace injuries than businesses which collapsed after one or two years.
It is interesting to pose the question: why do businesses experiencing fewer workplace injuries outlast their competitors? There are several factors that come into play, with the most basic response being that a higher number of workplace injuries amounts to negative press and fewer willing recruits.
Secondly, the key to preventing workplace injuries and fatalities is safety training. This could consist of courses and workshops which educate employees about ways to stay safe while at work. Being able to successfully plan, schedule, and execute safety training shows organizational skills which will always lend an advantage to any business looking to survive.
There are a number of challenges facing small businesses when it comes to organizing safety training:
- Lower budget
- No dedicated safety expert, and managers who are always pressed for time
- Lack of education about the importance of safety training
- Fewer employees able to participate in safety training
- Not enough resources to create a safety committee
If your small business has the right attitude toward the importance of safety training for employees, there are steps you can take to overcome these other challenges, particularly where a limited budget is involved.
Making it affordable
Whether you’re implementing a safety training program for scratch or trying to revamp an existing one, there are ways to do so without breaking the bank.
Take your safety training online
Instead of organizing an off-site event at a time that suits every attendee, taking safety lessons online provides much more flexibility. Each employee can have their tutorials at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day, costing your business up to 60% less than traditional classroom-based courses.
Get familiar with the requirements
In the U.S., there is the OSHA handbook, which details the safety rules and regulations which need to be met by small businesses. When organizing safety training, ensure that it is OSHA-compliant. This will prevent your business from spending extra resources on new safety courses if you discover that the first ones failed to meet these guidelines.
Identify key areas of risk
Depending on your business, there will be different risks and hazards which face your workforce. Whether it be working at heights or with chemicals, you should find safety training that matches the hazards facing your business.
Use your company’s size to your advantage
If you are a small business, it is easier to allocate employees a safety manager to organize their training. Ensure that training is completed by each employee, and have them confirm this with their manager. Also, investing in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required by your staff is more manageable if you have a smaller team.
Don’t forget the little things
This ties in with the previous point – the size of your business also makes it easier to distribute safety posters to all relevant locations, and organize ‘toolbox talks’ on occasion. These are brief, informal discussions about one particular area of workplace safety. Keeping them short and sweet will encourage future attendance, and hopefully help employees to reabsorb key information from their more extensive safety training.
Making it matter
The bottom line is: if you are concerned about the cost of safety training, consider the cost of a workplace accident.
Workplace accidents, aside from the obvious negative consequences on human life, put an irreversible stain on any business. An unimpressive record of workplace injuries or fatalities will prevent your business from attracting talent, and halt progress.
From taking your safety training online to organizing informal ‘toolbox talks’, there are many ways to take safety seriously as a small business.
In addition to that, proper safety training will only serve to increase employee awareness of the business and the tools that they come into contact with on a daily basis. This can lead to more internal suggestions for workflow optimization, and a stronger sense of duty.
A 2018 report showed that US employers lose $530 billion per year due to sick leave and other illness-related productivity