INFORMATION ABOUT OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH FOR NEW BUSINESSES IN THE USA
If you are contemplating purchasing an existing business in the United States or starting a new business under the E-2 treaty investor visa program you should be aware of your health and safety responsibilities to the employees in your business. This might be something you have to include in a business plan. Normally, before your E-2 visa application is approved you have to show evidence that you have already committed funds for the business and provided a detailed business plan. Considering the fact that you may have to purchase specific safety equipment for your business, depending on the nature of it, under your responsibilities to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this should be included in such a plan. Note that any E-2 business plan must involve the aim to employ at least two American citizens and preferably more, if possible. It is not acceptable to expect your visa application to be successful if you only consider yourself as the sole worker.
What is OSHA?
You may have an equivalent organization in your home country and are familiar with it, either because you owned a small to medium sized business there or had a managerial role and had dealings with a health and safety agency. In some countries, e.g. the United Kingdom and Australia, there are organizations that have a very similar role to OSHA in the US. Of course, you may also be from a nation that has few if any health and safety regulations, in which case you will find things are a little different here. OSHA is a federal agency that provides a framework to protect the environment in which American employees work in. The aim is to ensure that workplaces such as yours are healthy, safe places to work in.
What is a safe and healthy workplace?
You have a responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1970) to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. The Act provides details of regulations which your business has to comply with, whatever its size. Basically, this means that you must provide sufficient training and equipment to make sure there are no hazards which could cause injury or death in your workplace. Inspectors from OSHA can inspect your business premises and you can be fined or have your business operations closed down if it is found that you have failed to comply with the regulations.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
As an employer there are certain things you have to do to ensure that your employees understand their rights and responsibilities under the Act and you keep records of any injuries that have happened on your premises. The latter is only legally required if you employ more than 11 employees, but all employers need to display an OSHA poster in a prominent place which gives details of how OSHA affects employees in your business
You will find that when you have gained a visa and get started with your business that OSHA staff can provide a whole host of services that you can take advantage of which enable you to comply with health and safety regulations in your workplace. This includes onsite help with identifying hazards and obstacles as well as workshops and training in health and safety subjects.