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Identifying hazardous small business industries using data on occupational illnesses, injuries, and fatalities.

Lentz TJ; Okun A; Schulte P; Stayner L
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1998 May; :71
Despite declining rates of occupational injury and illness in the U.S. from 1992 to 1995, 6.6 million work-related injuries and illnesses and 5495 fatalities were reported among private industry in 1995, indicating that serious workplace hazards still exist. While public health initiatives have sought to achieve safer working conditions, employees in small business industries (SBI) may not have benefitted equally from these campaigns. Limited health and safety resources, difficulty in tracking and identifying specific hazards, and/or work activities characterized by unique hazards might put workers in certain SBI at higher risk of injury or illness. Based on this understanding of occupational health and safety challenges confronting SBI, investigation was made to identify hazardous SBI using available data on employment and occupational injuries and illnesses. The primary objectives and accomplishments of this investigation were (1) defining a small business industry as one in which >80% of all employees work in an establishment with <100 workers; (2) identifying SBI meeting this definition by standard industrial classification using the most recent (1994) employment data (rom the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns; and (3) ranking the top 20% of hazardous SBI using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, on occupational injuries, illnesses, lost workday cases, and fatalities for 1995. From the census data, 258 SBI were identified. The top 20% (n.50) of most hazardous SBI included 34 with injury/illness rates greater than the average rate for all private industry (i.e., 8.1 cases per 100 full-time workers). Possible contributing factors were considered, including percentages of small businesses that provide occupational health services, conduct health surveillance, and employ industrial hygiene and safety personnel, as reported in the National Occupational Exposure Survey of 1988. Discussion focuses on targeting hazardous SBI (e.g., special trades contractors) with intervention strategies for improving hazard communication and prevention.
Small-businesses; Occupational-hazards; Hazards; Health-hazards; Work-environment; Injuries; Diseases; Mortality-data; Data-processing; Lost-work-days; Health-surveys; Safety-education; Injury-prevention; Disease-prevention; Accident-prevention
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: January 28, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division