Effectiveness and implementation of health and safety programs in small enterprises: A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative literature

Small businesses have unique challenges with occupational health and safety (OHS). Overall, workers in a small business have a higher risk of workplace injury than workers in large firms, yet both workers and owners may not have a sense of this increased risk. Small businesses are more likely to face financial instability than larger firms. Together, these situations create a challenge in understanding and managing the risk of workplace accidents.

This systematic review was conducted to provide an understanding of and guidance on how to implement OHS in small businesses, and to identify effective OHS programs.

The review showed that, to improve their OHS practices, small businesses need support that:

  • helps them understand OHS rules and approaches
  • considers personal relationships and economic concerns
  • recognizes that they lack formal OHS system and resources
  • considers issues related to their specific size and sector

Overall, there was moderate evidence that interventions could improve OHS outcomes in small businesses.

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Summary: Improving health and safety in small businesses (188 KB)

Full report: 

Researcher(s): 

MacEachen E, Breslin FC, Kyle N, Irvin E, Kosny A, Bigelow P, Mahood Q, Scott-Dixon K, Morassaei S, Facey M, Chambers L, Couban R, Shannon HS, Cullen K, Amick BC

Published: 

2008