As small business owners support our community’s economy, the Small Business Safety and Health Center of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute is creating innovative ways to support them.

The Small Business Safety and Health Center is announcing the launch of the first level of a three-level training program, “Workplace Safety and Health for Small Business Owners, Managers and Supervisors.” It is a free, self-paced online training class that will help any small business owner to understand and prepare a safety and health program focused on OSHA compliance and  to avoid costly consequences of noncompliance. This program is designed to help any small business, regardless of the type, begin to prepare a safety and health program tailored to their business. Each level of the training will build on the previous ones to assist the small business in developing a comprehensive safety and health management system.

“The level one class is free, so it fits in everybody’s budget,” said Guinn Sharpe, the center’s program coordinator. “What makes this training program different is this isn’t about what the worker needs to know but what the owner, manager or supervisor needs to know. You walk away with a solid foundation for your own safety program and an understanding of what compliance means, what regulations may apply to you and the potential safety and health hazards of your business.”

Participants are given six months to complete the online modules at their own pace. Each module is activity-driven and contains all information needed to complete the activities. The six modules cover topics such as OSHA regulations, what to do if you have an OSHA inspection, how to recognize the hazards of your workplace based on regulations, OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping, emergency planning and how to set up a safety and health training program based on the specific hazards of your location. For those who already have a program in place, this program will provide the small business an opportunity to review their plan for completeness.

“I don’t think most small business owners understand the impact that noncompliance with OSHA regulations may have on their business, and they can be very costly if not followed,” said Cindy Lewis, director of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute.

The Small Business Safety and Health Center is one of the four Centers of Excellence of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute. It has been established to provide education and training to small businesses from any industry. A small business is defined as an employer having fewer than 250 employees at a fixed worksite and no more than 500 employees corporation-wide, according to OSHA.

The Small Business Safety and Health Center also offers free quarterly lunch and learns for small business owners, supervisors and managers to network and learn about topics relevant to them. Save the date for the next lunch and learn on Oct. 16. Participants will learn about fire safety and have the opportunity to practice using extinguishers on a simulated fire.

For more information on the online class and how to register please contact Guinn Sharpe, program coordinator, at 409-933-8338 or

The Gulf Coast Safety Institute is affiliated with the College of the Mainland. Established in 2007, the Institute focuses on providing safety and health education, training and outreach. For more information on the Institute, contact director Cindy Lewis at 409-933-8495 or or visit