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Surveillance of safety and health programs and needs in small U.S. businesses.

Lentz TJ; Sieber WK; Jones JH; Piacitelli GM; Catlett LR
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 2001 Nov; 16(11):1016-1021
Small businesses comprise a vital and significant portion of the U.S. economy, accounting for the employment of more than half (56%) of the workforce in private industry. Establishments with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of all U.S. workplaces, and 87 percent of these have fewer than 20 employees. Despite this overwhelming percentage of small businesses in private industry, the fragmentation of this segment of the workforce by place of employment creates challenges for identifying and characterizing safety and health conditions and related needs for small businesses. While federal and state standards and regulations address compensation, labor practices, and safety and health conditions, these have traditionally not applied to small businesses or have been modified with regard to small businesses. Exemptions from record-keeping requirements and additional characterisitcs that distinguish small businesses also complicate the issue of understanding how the safety and health needs of workers in these establishments are met. Many occupational hazards are similar across businesses and industries, regardless of size: yet others may be unique to small businesses and industries that are predominated by small employers (e.g., construction, retail trade, wholesale trade). Often, it is the small business employer who has fewer resources and personnel devoted to safety and health activities. The changing nature of the U.S. economy, with the shifting of jobs from a manufacturing setting to service- and information- oriented workplaces, is also likely to create new opportunities for small businesses. Understanding past safety and health challenges for small businesses can prove useful as a benchmark for comparison with data on small businesses at present, and on those that will evolve in the future. Based on this premise, NIOSH researchers have been considering multiple sources of data in order to characterize safety and health conditions in small businesses.
Surveillance-programs; Safety-programs; Health-programs; Occupational-hazards; Construction; Retail-workers; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs; Workers; Workplace-studies; Work-environment
TJ Lentz, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS C-32, Cincinnati, OH 45220
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Greife A
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: July 16, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division