Small-Business Work Safety Checklist

Dominique Dragon |

As a small business owner, you want to keep your business, employees, and customers safe. Whether you're a new business owner or a veteran who just wants to make sure you're doing things right, here's a checklist of things you can do to promote a safe and healthy working environment.

Check Insurance Coverage: When something goes wrong at your place of business or in the course of off-site business operations, if you're the business owner, you're probably going to be held responsible. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have the right amount and type of coverage so that your business, staff, and customers are protected.

Know OSHA: By law, there are certain things you must do to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is responsible for enforcing these laws, but they also offer resources for compliance and training. Go to for more information.

Take inventory: Different businesses may have very different needs when it comes to workplace safety. No matter what industry you're in, it's a good idea to audit your business with an eye for potential hazards and safety issues. OSHA offers a checklist to help business owners assess their workplace for hazards that might be unique to them.

Train for Safety: Safety in the workplace starts with training your staff to do things right. Make sure your business has a clear plan for onboarding new employees that includes safety training and protocols, as well as a system to verify they have actually learned it.

Maintain Equipment: Your employees have a right to use equipment and machines that are safe. Make sure that any equipment needed to do business is regularly inspected and maintained, and that employees are required to report any damage or repairs needed.

Prioritize First Aid: No matter how safe your workplace is, you can't prevent everything. Have basic first aid supplies on hand and that employees know how to access and use them.

Enforce Breaks: Did you know that fatigue can be a major cause of accidents at work? When we're tired, we're more likely to make simple mistakes and our executive functioning is impaired. Educate your employees about the hazards of working while tired, and have a clear expectation for breaks and downtime.

Plan for Emergencies: No business owner wants to think that a major fire, national disaster or cybersecurity attack will happen to them. But successfully making it through these rare but not unheard of events depends on seriously imagining they could happen and then planning an effective response.

Run Practice Scenarios: In addition to having a plan, take time to do a test run of how you would respond to common emergencies, like a fire or tornado, with your staff.