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Selected Category: Small Business

Health and Safety on the Open Market

Categories: Small Business

Happy Small Business Week! The Small Business Administration is hosting events across the country. While many of the gatherings are focused on various aspects of entrepreneurism, we at NIOSH wanted to share some thoughts on workplace safety.

Public health organizations want to provide small businesses with health and safety resources. Small business owners want a healthful and safe workplace. It sounds like a good deal, but there are two problems.

Problem 1: With such a large number of small businesses nationwide (79% of US firms have fewer than 100 employees), it’s impossible for public health organizations (whether it’s NIOSH, OSHA, a state health department, or others) to reach all of them. Even when they do, the tools they provide may not be right for small businesses.

How to Avoid Bear Attacks (and other small business concerns)

Categories: Manufacturing, Service Sector, Small Business, Wholesale and Retail Trade

Black bear routes through trash canRunning a small business and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains share a surprising parallel. Although the connection may not be obvious at first, consider the following:
The US National Park Service estimates that 1500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s 2 bears per square mile. Additionally, the Smokies welcome 9 million annual human visitors. Bears are dangerous to people (and vice versa), so the Park Service—acknowledging that bears can’t read and have only limited Internet access—has provided safety information for us humans:1

U.S. Businesses Start and Stay Smaller

Categories: Manufacturing, Service Sector, Small Business, Wholesale and Retail Trade

U.S. businesses of the new millennium are starting smaller and staying smaller than in decades past. That’s the conclusion of a study reported in the March issue of Monthly Labor Review.

The study found that business size, as measured by number of employees, usually declines during economic recessions and increases during expansion years resulting in an overall upward trend. However, unlike previous decades, that trend did not persist during the 2000s when overall size declined slightly. That shift was mostly explained by a decrease in “birth size” of businesses. For example, between 2000 and 2007, the average size of establishments that were less than one year old declined from 7.3 to 5.3 employees while the size of establishments that were seven or more years old showed a much smaller decline from 22.8 to 22.2.

Hair, Formaldehyde, and Industrial Hygiene

Categories: Chemicals, Exposure, Service Sector, Small Business, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Women

photo of a woman's hair being straightenedEven if you’re not particularly fashion conscious, it’s been pretty hard to miss hearing about the Brazilian Blowout smoothing solution over the past year. Imagining a 10% solution of methylene glycol/formaldehyde being applied, dried, and flat-ironed on hair in a salon is enough to make most industrial hygienists cringe. Until recently, comments about the same product from a fashion-conscious, non-industrial hygienist might have been, “I love the product,” or, “It really tames unmanageable hair.”

On January 30, 2012, the California Attorney General announced a settlement with the manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout products that requires the company to warn consumers and hair stylists that two of their most popular hair-smoothing products emit formaldehyde gas. The terms of the settlement require accurate disclosure in material safety data sheets and labels, distribution of precautionary use measures, and cessation of false advertising. Penalties of $600,000 were also imposed on the manufacturer.

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