The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all employers, regardless of the business' size, recognize hazards in the workplace and minimize exposure to these hazards to protect employees from injury or illness. Employers must also train employees what to do in case of an emergency. However, exceptions to OSHA regulations exist for many small businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
OSHA does not require businesses that employ less than 10 employees to keep required OSHA injury and illness records (OSHA 300 forms). In some industries, however, this requirement is still mandatory. Written notice of this requirement will come from OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics if the records are mandatory. Regardless of the size of the business, if an accident occurs that results in either the death of an employee or three or more employees sustaining serious injuries, the employer must file a report with OSHA.
Penalties levied for violations of OSHA regulations are typically less for small businesses than large companies. OSHA considers the size of the business as one of many factors when determining the penalty for violations. While there are very specific and detailed procedures to determine the size of an OSHA fine, a 60 percent reduction is typical for a small business with less than 10 employees.
Some industries are also exempt from some OSHA regulations. OSHA does not require businesses classified as low-hazard--many retail, service, office administration or real estate industry businesses--to keep and maintain OSHA 300 forms unless specifically asked to do so. In addition, if violations occur, OSHA may reduce penalties based on the type of violation and the perceived risk of the industry involved.