Workplace Safety

Every workplace has rules that ensure everyone can go about their business without taking unnecessary safety risks. While each type of business will have its own specific safety practices, there are a few general rules that you should follow in any situation. The guidelines listed below can help you remain safer in work environments, so accidents will be minimized.

Wear the Proper Safety Gear

Safety gear, also called personal protective equipment, is required in every type of business, although the specific equipment will vary from place to place. On your first day, you should immediately be instructed on the required PPE that must be worn on the premises. If no one talks to you about the proper gear, you should take it upon yourself to learn what safety gear is required.

Learn Safety Procedures

In addition to knowing what safety gear to wear, you should also know the various safety procedures your employer has implemented. For instance, there will be specific rules for handling hazardous chemicals, or for operating heavy machinery. Before you begin any task you haven’t previously performed, you should take the time to learn the safety guidelines that concern that task. If you’re dealing with an unfamiliar piece of equipment, ask your supervisor to provide you with proper training. It’s better to ask for training than to take unnecessary safety risks.

Never Bypass Safety Equipment

Every machine has been designed to include safety equipment that reduces the risks of injuries. Bypassing these systems, such as operating a machine with a guard not in place, increases your risk of an accident. In addition to risking a very serious injury, you may also be risking your job, since employers view safety as a major concern. Even if it means slowing productivity, be sure to operate every machine, or piece of equipment, in accordance with the safety rules. If a piece of equipment is damaged, or is missing important safeguards, notify your supervisor immediately.

Overall, staying safe in the workplace requires knowing the risks and staying alert. As long as you remain aware of your surroundings and adhere to the safety guidelines established by your employer, you can feel safer in any work environment. Your knowledge of safety protocols and your alertness on the job site are the key factors in helping you to avoid potentially serious workplace accidents and injuries.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.net/workplace-safety/

Hiring a Patent Lawyer

Individuals who just invented something great will also need to patent their invention to protect it from theft. What steps must a person do when they set out to hire a patent lawyer? As an inventor, the person needs competent legal representation when they go to do this. Some negative perceptions have arisen because of a few in the minority who have given the majority a bad name. The more that someone knows before they step into the patent office, the better.

Come Prepared

Before an inventor steps into the patent office, they should come with some level of preparation. Inventors must work with the patent professional to help them understand how to proceed. Some of the problems that can arise include:

  • Inability to assist
  • Unavailable
  • Dumping rambling information

Cooperation and clear communication can make or break an invention during this part of the process. The individual must know the configurations and the options that they plan to have available for it.

Confidential Under Law

Based on US law, patent offices must keep the information found as confidential. This applies not only to lawyers who have a client, but it applies to prospective clients as well. That’s because it can hinder the process for a lawyer to put a patent on the invention if they don’t have the full information. If the client must act guarded in his interactions, this will have a negative effect on the overall patent process.

Most of the time, these offices won’t even have a confidentiality agreement, and in fact, if a lawyer were to break this regulation, the rules and regulations would have a far more negative impact on them than if they broke a confidentiality agreement.

When an individual sets out to patent their invention, they should set realistic expectations for how they plan to proceed. People must remain mindful of these things, and they should create a set plan. As someone first sets out to work with a patent lawyer, they want to leave a good impression on them that will make them want to work with them. This comes from understanding the industry and how most inventors get started in the business.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.org/hiring-a-patent-lawyer/

Leadership Tips For Small Business Owners

If you are a small business owner or any kind of leader in a small business, you will find that you are in a very interesting position. In large companies, the owner is often detached from the workers on the ground floor. These companies are just too big for them to be able to make a personal connection with everyone.

On the other hand, in small businesses, the owner can have a very personal connection with all of the workers. This is an incredible asset, which you can use to your advantage. Here are some leadership tips to follow if you are a small business owner.

Have Vision

As the owner of a small business you must have the foresight to know exactly where your company is going and how you will get there. By having a clear direction, coupled with the ability to know exactly what needs to be done, you will find that your employees will put great faith in you.

Lead By Example

Since you are more involved in the day-to-day operations of the company and your actions are seen directly by the employees, it’s important that you lead by example.

If you want your employees to work hard, then you need to work even harder, to set a good example. If you are sitting lazily in your office all day, how can you expect your workers to do any better?

Take Responsibility

Personal responsibility is another important aspect attached to being a small business owner. You cannot hide behind a management hierarchy, as you would be able to do in a large company. If you make a mistake as a small business owner, you need to be transparent about it, admitting your error and remedying it in a responsible and timely way.

By doing this, you will set a great example that will trickle down throughout your business.

Be A Mentor

Leaders of all types should strive to be great mentors as well. This is doubly true for small business owners, who can pass direct personal experience down to those wishing to acquire it. By mentoring your employees, you are showing them that you value them and are willing to invest in them. They will appreciate this and their hard work and dedication will improve your business down the road.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.com/leadership-tips-for-small-business-owners/

What to Do If Your Patent is Denied

Applying for a patent is tedious work, and learning that your patent has been rejected can be a crushing experience. However, even if your patent application is denied, there are still steps you can take to fight for your patent.

Prior to Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) handles all patent applications in the U.S., and it receives a high volume of patent applications throughout the year. In order to reduce your chances of having your patent rejected, it is important to ensure that you have conducted sufficient research pertaining to whether your invention is patentable and to verify that no one else has patented a similar invention.

Why Was Your Patent Denied?

Understanding the common reasons why patents are denied can also help guide you as you undertake the next logical steps. These criteria may seem subjective, but they are what the USPTO uses to determine if a patent is applicable or not. Patents that feature inventions that are not novel are rejected; this is why you should be sure to conduct enough research before applying. Inventions that are obvious are also rejected; they must display some inventiveness in order to be accepted. The last criteria used by the USPTO relates to the application itself; technical errors (such as information related to the invention) and informalities (like grammatical mistakes) can also contribute to a patent being rejected.

In some cases, patent applications are also considered to be too broad; applicants may try to cover as much ground as possible with their patent application, but the USPTO may determine that the patent is not valid because of this.

What to Do Upon Rejection

If you believe the USPTO wrongly denied your patent, you can appeal their decision or file a continuity application. Either way, it is advised that you consult a lawyer as you undertake this task to ensure that you are following the proper procedure and also to get a second set of eyes on your patent application.

Obtaining a patent may come down to negotiation and debate. Patent applicants should be prepared to revise their application and provide a more tailored description of their invention as well as a justification for why this invention is novel, unique, and better than any similar inventions. Applying for a patent takes time, and often, only those who are willing to fight for their ideas will be accepted.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.org/what-to-do-if-your-patent-is-denied/

What is OSHA?

Even outside of workplaces that pose threats to workers’ health, most United States’ citizens have heard of OSHA. However, if their work does not regularly endanger them, there is a high chance that many individuals do not actually know much about the agency. Those who are unaware of OSHA’s role should be aware of how much the agency does to protect workers and what steps it has taken to improve the safety and well-being of individuals every day.

What is OSHA?

The acronym OSHA refers to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which was created by Congress through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Upon its inception, its mission was established for the benefit of working citizens. Through various programs and initiatives, OSHA aims to protect workers and provide safe working conditions through measures such as training, assistance, and outreach.

OSHA regulations apply to any business with employees. This means that any business that provides paychecks to more than one individual (excluding freelancers) must abide by OSHA regulations in ensuring the workplace is safe.

Though OSHA is a federal agency, some states also have their own OSHA laws, so business owners must abide by any specifications presented by their state and federal governments.

OSHA Requirements

Businesses that are subject to OSHA requirements must abide by certain restrictions and regulations. Some of these regulations include posting an OSHA-compliant poster within sight of employees that informs them of their rights as well as educating employees on first-aid and firefighting procedures. Employers must also report all incidents such as injuries and fatalities to OSHA.

OSHA Training

Educating employees on safe practices is mandated by OSHA. Dealing with hazardous substances as well as blood-borne pathogens is part of the required training, as is handling emergency situations. The last part of required training entails teaching employees what to do when an OSHA inspector visits. For businesses with fewer than 10 employees, such training can be conducted orally, but larger companies must have a written plan that is available for employee consultation.

OSHA regulations have been put in place to promote a higher degree of employee safety. By educating employees and providing key resources, employers can easily abide by OSHA regulations and ensure their workers are informed and safe.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.net/what-is-osha/

Creating a Business Plan

Entrepreneurs and business owners must take certain steps and precautions when building or expanding a business. The simplest and most effective way to go about this is by creating a business plan. While crafting a business plan can take considerable time and effort, business owners who have a thorough plan will be better prepared for the future of their businesses.

What Role Does a Business Plan Serve?

There are actually many different functions of a business plan. Generally, the plan can help guide business owners toward their goals by presenting sufficient information on finances, business history, and business goals. The other primary function of a business plan is to demonstrate to investors and potential lenders the history and future prospects of the business. In crafting a business plan, business owners should keep in mind their intended audience and what they hope to accomplish through the creation of such a lengthy, time-consuming document.

So what makes a business plan successful?

Research

The first step to creating an effective business plan entails a substantial amount of research. From collecting documentation of past expenses and profits to conducting in-depth market research, a business plan requires business owners to take a full inventory of the market and where their business stands within it. Assessing the health of the industry as well as the business independently will also be essential. The process of crafting a business plan will not be quick, but it should serve a productive project that enlightens business owners and provides a satisfactory look at the business’ potential for future success.

Objectivity

As a business owner, it may be easy to delve into a biased perspective when creating a business plan, but it is important to remain objective in your plan. Acknowledging any dips in revenue and providing an honest look at the market will demonstrate that business owners are aware of the industry’s status and believe that their business can achieve success, even without saying so directly. Additionally, providing a look at the company’s mission, upcoming projects, and financial history without making excuses or adding in rationale will demonstrate a business owner’s confidence in their business. While it may be tempting to bolster your business plan with opinions, objectivity will serve the plan better as business owners attempt to earn funding or investments.

Overall, keeping in mind the role of the business plan should help keeping business owners on the right track when drafting their own.

Originally published: https://stevenlewisweiner.com/creating-a-business-plan/

How to Patent an Idea

Individuals looking to obtain a patent for a new idea may find themselves disappointed. At present, the idea of something cannot be patented. Instead, individuals must have an invention, something that has actually been produced or used, in order to file for a patent. Ideas themselves cannot be patented, and they cannot be protected by copyright law, either. In order to obtain a patent, individuals must create something new.

Copyright vs Patent

While both of these things protect individuals, their functions are different. Copyrights protect creativity and idea expression rather than products of innovation. Patents are used to protect inventions. Copyright and patent laws exist to help creators protect their intellectual property and ensure there are legal boundaries in place should someone try to claim, steal, or copy their materials.

Patenting an Invention

As stated previously, an idea alone cannot be patented. However, individuals who have actually constructed a new invention (or, in some cases as with biotechnology, discovered a new application of existing technology) may be eligible for a patent. Having an idea is important, but you must get to the invention stage prior to filing for a patent. 

Before applying for a patent, it is important to determine whether a similar or identical patent already exists. Speaking with a patent attorney and searching a patent database are recommended in this task. In fact, one of the best things you can do when looking to obtain a patent for an invention is consult others. You may worry that they may try to steal your idea, so be sure to verify a professional’s credentials prior to meeting with them.

Once you’ve done the above, you will have to go about filing the patent application. Fortunately, you can do so online, though you can also apply via mail or fax if you’d like. 

For individuals looking to obtain a patent, remember that the idea is the first step, and it is arguably one of the most important ones. While you cannot patent an idea itself, honing your thoughts and coming up with a game plan for your idea in order to execute a new invention will be essential for the process of obtaining a patent.

Originally published: http://stevenlewisweiner.org/how-to-patent-an-idea/

What is Hazard Communication?

When working with chemicals in the workplace, it is imperative that individuals practice proper safety procedures in order to keep everyone involved safe. From shipping, handling, storage, and more, the presence of chemicals in the workplace can lead to dangerous situations or accidents if proper communication is not made.

OSHA Regulations

Hazard communication (or HazCom) standards have been put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect workers who directly handle or are in the vicinity of potentially dangerous chemicals. Individuals who work with chemicals face a number of risks from day to day, including health hazards such as irritation and reactions as well as physical threats such as flammability. Because of these risks, OSHA established standards for hazard communication to keep workers informed and safe.

HazCom Standard Requirements

In order to abide by OSHA standards, workplaces that house or handle chemical materials must ensure they comply with certain requirements. These requirements include the proper labeling of chemicals including their identities as well as mixtures and hazardous qualities; on these labels, the appropriate signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement must be included for each classification of hazard. Beyond labeling, workplaces must also provide thorough data sheets detailing the information about the chemicals present, and all workers must be trained to understand hazard labels and OSHA standards of safety.

The data sheets must contain a substantial amount of integral information including measures to take should first aid be required or upon accidental release of the chemical materials. Other information that must be included involves how to handle and store the chemicals, relevant information relating to toxicity and ecology, as well as disposal protocol. It may also include information on what equipment is necessary for handling, shipping, and storing the materials.

HazCom Goals

While some workers and employers may find the requirements of OSHA HazCom standards to be tedious or demanding, they have been put in place to ensure the safety, education, and overall well being of those who interact with hazardous chemicals. Because handling chemicals inherently comes with a high risk of injury due to the nature of chemical materials, providing proper education, labeling, and training is imperative for the safety of the workforce and the success of a business.

Originally published: http://stevenlewisweiner.net/what-is-hazard-communication/

Creating a Budget for Your Business

For entrepreneurs of all experience levels, crafting an effective budget can be a challenge, especially for individuals who do not have a background in finance. However, a strong budget can be influential in the long-term success of your business. Taking the time to create a budget you can clearly abide by is crucial for business owners.

Keep Business Expenses and Personal Expenses Separate

In the early days of a business, the lines between business and personal life can seem a bit blurred. At this point in the journey, as well as all later points, it is important that entrepreneurs separate their expenses. Not only is this for your benefit and sanity, but it is also essential from a business standpoint as keeping these expenses separate will help give you a more accurate look at how much it costs to operate your business as well as how much profit it brings in.

Preserve Receipts

When it comes to business expenses, you should be careful to keep records of what money is spent, what it is used for, and when it was spent. Novice entrepreneurs may consider only tracking larger costs, but over time, small expenses add up, making it important to keep all receipts for your business expenses.

Account for Fixed and Variable Expenses

Operating a business costs money; this is fact, plain and simple. However, how much it costs to run a business may vary from month to month. Fixed expenses could include rent and employee salaries, while variable expenses might account for the cost of supplies and other resources. Because it is difficult to predict exactly how much you will need to spend in a given month, it is recommended that you are careful to document your monthly expenses to the best of your ability before making a budget. Additionally, you should always leave some room for flexibility.

Round Up

When crafting a budget, you should always round up your expenses. It is better to overestimate how much you will spend than to do the alternative. While rounding up will inevitably leave you with a high estimate for your budgetary needs, chances are, you will not actually need to spend that much, leaving you with some extra funds that can be used for other projects.

Originally published: http://stevenlewisweiner.com/creating-a-budget-for-your-business/

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