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	worker wearing respirator, lab worker, lungs

Input: Economic Factors

Small businesses struggle to exist in a precarious economic environment. While two-thirds of new small businesses survive at least 2 years, only 44% survive at least 4 years. These numbers are consistent across sectors. One research team found that businesses that lasted five years had less than half the annual workplace injury rate as businesses that lasted only two years. Despite conventional wisdom that restaurants fail much more frequently than small businesses in other industries, leisure and hospitality establishments, which include restaurants, survive at rates only slightly below the average.

Market forces, structural changes, and emerging social and business climate threats may affect levels of resources available for occupational safety and health initiatives for small businesses. Financial limitations are frequently cited by small business owners as a barrier to implementing recommended health and safety programs. Other issues frequently take precedence when small businesses survive on the edge of viability. For example, according to a National Federation of Independent Business membership survey, the number one small business issue is the cost and availability of insurance.

NIOSH is aware that economic factors often overshadow small business decision making. Thus, NIOSH has considerable interest in demonstrating economically viable practical solutions for small businesses, case studies conducted within small businesses, and studies demonstrating positive return on investment for health and safety efforts within the small business community.


Chu RC, Trapnell GR [2003]. National Federation of Independent Business; Kaiser Family Foundation; Advocacy-funded research by ( See Research Summary #224 ).

Headd B [2003]. Redefining business success: Distinguishing between closure and failure. Small Business Economics 21(1):51 61.

Holizki, T., L. Nelson, and R. McDonald, Injury Rate as an Indicator of Business Success. Industrial Health, 2006: p. 166-168.

Knaup AE [2005]. Survival and longevity in the business employment dynamics database. Monthly Labor Review,128(5):50 56.