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Describing occupational safety and health programs in small businesses.

Dyjack-D; Redinger-C; Palassis-J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :12-13
Private-owned enterprises with fewer than 100 employees provide the employment base for more than half of the nation's non-governmental workforce. Workers in small companies are statistically at greater risk of incurring work-related injury than their counterparts in larger organizations. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget has reported that occupational safety and health (OS&H) management programs are an effective tool at reducing human and financial costs associated with work-related injury and illnesses. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize OS&H management programs in small businesses. To gain greater insight into this issue, focus groups and interviews were conducted in representative geographical locations in the United States with primary (owners and managers) and secondary (key informants) sources from October 2001 to September 2002. Employers with less than 20 employees were generally unaware that formal written OS&H programs were required, even in states possessing a statute requiring such a program. Professional associations and vendors were viewed as important sources of OS&H information. Time, followed by a lack of perceived need, was reported to be the major barriers to implementing OS&H programs. A majority of business owners communicated vociferous disdain towards Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement personnel, and dissatisfaction with perceived governmental interference in their businesses, and generally would not use OSHA consultation vices, even if they required assistance. The cost of workman's compensation insurance appeared to be the central concern of study participants, and therefore holds promise as a potential carrot for influencing small enterprise. The investigators recommend that efforts to raise awareness and promote OS&H management programs be anchored in professional associations. Such efforts could be tailored to meet the needs of specific businesses, employ successful case studies, which have significance to the target audience, and be conveyed in a manner which addresses barriers and incentives.
Occupational-health; Occupational-safety-programs; Small-businesses; Workplace-monitoring; Workplace-studies; Workers; Injuries; Occupational-hazards; Case-studies
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas