In 2012, there were approximately 5.7 million businesses in the United States with employees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In regards to small businesses,
- 35% of the U.S. workforce is in a firm with < 100 employees,
- 89% of U.S. businesses have < 20 employees, and
- 79% of U.S. businesses have < 10 employees.
Although the definition of a “small” business varies widely, particularly as it relates to discussions of workplace safety and health, the characteristics that distinguish a smaller business from a larger one in terms of occupational safety and health capacities include not only number of employees but also the structure (including sole proprietorships), the age of the business (most new businesses are small), and a manager-centered culture (the owner/operator sets the culture of the business). Despite the stereotype of a small business as a small town retail or service firm, some smaller businesses do not fit the stereotype, e.g., high-tech manufacturing startups.
For most occupational safety and health research purposes, the NIOSH Small Business Assistance Program considers small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees. This number is consistent with European Union criteria for defining small enterprises, as well as the Affordable Care Act cutoff for requiring employers to provide health insurance to employees.
- NIOSH Small Business Resource Guide
A guide to help small business owners, employers, and managers deal with occupational safety and health concerns.
- NIOSH Science Blog: Help for Small Businesses
Consistently listed among their top three challenges is meeting government regulations (along with attracting new customers and facing economic issues).
- NIOSH Science Blog: Overlapping Vulnerabilities
Not all workers have the same risk of being injured at work, even when they are in the same industry or have the same occupation.
- NIOSH Science Blog: Health and Safety on the Open Market
Public health organizations want to provide small businesses with health and safety resources. Small business owners want a healthful and safe workplace.
- NIOSH Science Blog: How to Avoid Bear Attacks (and other small business concerns)
Running a small business and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains share a surprising parallel.
- NIOSH Science Blog: U.S. Businesses Start and Stay Smaller
U.S. businesses of the new millennium are starting smaller and staying smaller than in decades past.
- NIOSH Identifying High-Risk Small Business Industries – The Basis for Preventing Occupational Injury, Illness, and Fatality
In this report, 253 small business industries were identified with data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the years 1994–1995.
- Page last reviewed: July 14, 2016
- Page last updated: December 1, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division