Background: Approximately one-third (32%) of U.S. workers are employed in small business industries (those with 80% of workers in establishments with fewer than 100 employees), and approximately 53 million persons in private industry work in small business establishments. This study was performed to identify small business industries at high risk for occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Methods: Small business industries were identified from among all three- and four-digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and ranked using Bureau of labor Statistics (BLS) data by rates and numbers of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Both incidence rates and number of injury, illness, and fatality cases were evaluated. Results: The 253 small business industries identified accounted for 1,568 work-related fatalities (34% of all private industry). Transportation incidents and violent acts were the leading causes of these fatalities. Detailed injury and illness data were available for 105 small business industries, that accounted for 1,476,400 work-related injuries, and 55,850 occupational illnesses. Many of the small business industries had morbidity and mortality rates exceeding the average rates for all private industry The highest risk small business industries, based on a combined morbidity and mortality index included logging, cut stone and stone products, truck terminals, and roofing, siding, and sheet metal work. Conclusions: Identification of high-risk small business: industries indicates priorities for those interested in developing targeted prevention programs.
Andrea Okun, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Information Division, MS-C14, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226