Smaller firms are the majority in every industry in the US, and they endure a greater burden of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities than larger firms. Smaller firms often lack the necessary resources for effective occupational safety and health activities, and many require external assistance with safety and health programming. Based on previous work by researchers in Europe and New Zealand, NIOSH researchers developed for occupational safety and health intervention in small businesses. This model was evaluated with several intermediary organizations. Four case studies which describe efforts to reach small businesses with occupational safety and health assistance include the following: trenching safety training for construction, basic compliance and hazard recognition for general industry, expanded safety and health training for restaurants, and fall prevention and respirator training for boat repair contractors. Successful efforts included participation by the initiator among the intermediaries' planning activities, alignment of small business needs with intermediary offerings, continued monitoring of intermediary activities by the initiator, and strong leadership for occupational safety and health among intermediaries. Common challenges were a lack of resources among intermediaries, lack of opportunities for in-person meetings between intermediaries and the initiator, and balancing the exchanges in the initiator-intermediary-small business relationships. The model offers some encouragement that initiator organizations can contribute to sustainable OSH assistance for small firms, but they must depend on intermediaries who have compatible interests in smaller businesses and they must work to understand the small business social system.
Injuries; Morbidity-rates; Mortality-rates; Models; Small-businesses; Safety-measures; Safety-programs; Health-programs; Hazards; Training; Fall-protection; Respiratory-protection; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respirators;
Author Keywords: Small business; Occupational safety and health; Intervention model; Diffusion; NIOSH
Thomas R. Cunningham, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway MS C-10, Cincinnati, OH 45208