Small Business Assistance Program

What are our priorities?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Small Business Assistance Program works with partners in industry, labor, trade associations, professional organizations, and academia. Small businesses are typically defined as those with fewer than 50 employees. The program focuses on the following areas:

  • Conducting research to better prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths in small businesses.
  • Increasing awareness and use of effective interventions among small businesses.
What do we do?
  • Investigate the work environment in small businesses and the barriers to preventing workplace illness, injury, and death.
  • Explore how intermediaries such as insurance companies, trade associations, chambers of commerce, and local health organizations can connect with small businesses and the best way to partner with them.
  • Present on occupational safety and health issues to small businesses and intermediaries.
  • Foster collaborations with international small business safety and health leaders through scientific conferences and informal networking. This helps increase our understanding of small businesses and effective interventions both domestically and internationally.
  • Collaborate and provide support to other NIOSH programs and outside partners researching occupational safety and health issues that may affect small businesses.
What have we accomplished?
  • Collaborated with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to cobrand and update the OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook.
  • Performed dozens of customer discovery interviews with small business owners and employees in outdoor service businesses to determine their occupational safety and health needs and resource preferences.
  • Collaborated with Health Action Alliance on sharing new vaccine resources for small businesses.
  • Published “Intermediary perspectives on Total Worker Health in Small Businesses” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Results indicated intermediary organizations find value in providing TWH assistance to small employers, but several challenges for intermediaries implementing TWH among small employers remain.
  • Participated on a panel with OSHA and an insurance provider to discuss occupational safety and health (OSH) and small businesses, and share resources, including the OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Handbook.
What’s next?
  • Formalize partnerships with intermediary organizations to better reach small businesses across various sectors.
  • Collaborate with OSHA to update the OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Handbook with new checklist topics, including fatigue, heat stress, mental health, stress, suicide, and young and aging workers.
  • Advise on approaches to emergency preparedness for small businesses with the CDC Center for Preparedness and Response.

Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The Small Business Assistance Program seeks to reduce occupational illnesses, injuries, and deaths in smaller businesses. This is done through research, outreach, and prevention activities. This snapshot shows recent accomplishments and upcoming projects.

Rates of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in small businesses by year per 100 full-time workers
Line graphing down the decrease in rates of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in small businesses per 100 full-time workers from 2.9 in 2015 to 2.3 in 2020.
Rates of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in small businesses by industry (2020) per 100 full-time workers
Bar graph showing the rates of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in small business by industry in 2020 per 100 full-time workers. Agriculture had the highest rate (3.7).

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Small businesses are U.S. establishments with 11-49 workers.

Spotlight:Small Business Safety and Health Handbook
Publication spotlight of the OSHA-NIOSH Small Business Safety and Health Handbook.

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September 2022

Page last reviewed: September 6, 2022