Small Business Guide To Safety

Micro to mid-size: Safety's not just for the big guys

Workplace Safety: A Guide for Small and Midsized Companies

Workplace Safety: A Guide for Small and Midsized Companies
By Dan Hopwood & Steve Thompson
John Wiley & Sons Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7821-3604-3
ISBN-10: 0-7821-3604-4
$35.00 (hard cover)
224 pages

Reviewed by Rick Faulkner

Recently, the Discovery Channel reported that almost 100 percent of crab fishermen in Alaska get injured on the job.

The crab fishing industry, comprised of teams of small business owners/managers and their employees, still exists despite the extremely high injury rate. (If you found out virtually all the workers of your employer get hurt every year, you'd probably call the police!)

Co-authors Dan Hopwood, who is the director of Risk Management at the Del Mar Raceway in Del Mar, CA and Steve Thompson, president of Aspen Risk Management Group in San Diego, guide you through the maze of workplace safety with their new book, Workplace Safety, A Guide For Small and Midsized Companies.

Small business and workplace fatalities

Meanwhile, the folks at the U.S. think-tank, RAND Corporation, have created a report that sheds the light on deaths in the workplace. Coauthored by John Mendeloff, Christopher Nelson, Kilkon Ko, and Amelia Haviland, it's titled Small Business and Workplace Fatality Risk, An Exploratory Analysis[PDF].

Some generalized observations from this book include

  • a company's size is a dramatically important factor in workplace deaths
  • government and OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) consider company size when creating legislation or assessing fines
  • smaller companies have much higher death rates than larger ones
  • unionized companies have fewer incidents

These people have compiled all these statistics, such as number of deaths by industry, by company size, and time, and more, to help you understand your situation and the statistics that go with it. Numbers tell a tale but interpreting the numbers tells a clearer picture.

This is the best 35 bucks you'll likely spend regarding your business's health and well-being, as it guides the reader into creating a program tailored to suit their own situation, not relying on someone else's "one size fits all" generic program.

This is more than a how-to or a reference manual. It helps you understand the entire process from planning to investigating to identifying hazards. This book is written in clear simple language with understandable examples that set the table for real-world problem solving and safety management.

Hopwood and Thompson, both of whom are Associates in Risk Management, argue that formulating a qualitative safety curriculum can have unseen benefits including

  • reduced employee turnover and higher productivity
  • regulatory compliance will be much more manageable
  • reduced injuries and illnesses will translate into happier employees who feel safer and actually enjoy their jobs
  • time not spent training new employees, examining repetitive incidents or unnecessarily re-training employees

Could you be a terrorist target?

Unfortunately, workplace safety now also includes dangers from outside sources such as cyberattacks, terrorism, kidnapping, executive or employee protection, as well as the more common theft and vandalism. One chapter addresses these subjects as well as others. You may not think of your small company as being a terrorist target, but you may in fact have equipment, technology or knowledge that terrorists want.

A sound safety management program, knowledgeable employees, and appropriate training will keep these numbers from being fatalities. Planning for the unknown can be tricky. Establishing cause-and-effect is much simpler after the accident has happened, as it can be examined and logged.

Workplace Safety also contains a solid reference section, including a collection of checklists and sample documents for the owners and managers of small businesses to use as safety best practices.

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