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Small businesses with high fatality rates: assessment of hazards and their prevention.

Lentz-TJ; Wenzl-TL
J Occup Environ Hyg 2006 Feb; 3(2):D8-D14
Most of the U.S. workforce is employed in business establishments with fewer than 100 workers. Employers in the small business industries are a vital part of the U.S. economy, responsible for providing a variety of products and services. The success of small businesses in construction, manufacturing, mining, and other industries is in part due to their scale, which allows them to operate with limited resources, to mobilize quickly to respond to demands for products and services, and to interact with clients, employees, and others on a more personal level. Not only does a majority (~56%) of U.S. employees work for small employers, but workplace fatality rates are frequently higher in those industries dominated by small workplaces. Similar patterns exist in the European Union, where the risk of fatal accidents in businesses with fewer than 50 workers (or 99% of all businesses) is nearly double that for larger companies. Prevention of occupational illness and injury is often difficult in small business establishments because they typically have fewer safety and health resources, usually cannot hire staff devoted to safety and health activities, and often lack the ability to identify occupational hazards and conduct surveillance. Given these premises, this investigation was conducted with the following objectives: to identify characteristics of a selection of seemingly diverse high-risk small business industries, many of which share similar challenges owing to their scale and the nature of the work involved. To compare and contrast perceptions of safety and health hazards, training needs, and sources of information for small and large companies, citing surveys of the construction industry. To assess methods for creating and improving awareness of occupational hazards through outreach, intervention, and effectiveness evaluations, recognizing examples in the small business community currently in practice or under development.
Small-businesses; Mortality-rates; Mortality-data; Occupational-hazards; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Workers; Worker-health; Occupational-health; Employees; Employee-health; Occupational-accidents; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Health-hazards
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Document Type
Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
NORA Implementation
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene