Understanding how new businesses start managing OHS: laying the groundwork for future interventions

Reasons for the study

About 100,000 new businesses with one or more employees are created each year in Canada, representing almost 10 per cent of existing businesses. For effective primary prevention of avoidable incidents, and for effective integration of occupational health and safety (OHS) into their operations and nascent culture, new businesses need to start managing OHS by the time they hire their first employee. Since new businesses usually need external expertise to support the initiation of OHS management, it is critical that the OHS prevention system in Ontario reach and support new businesses early in their lifecycle. Yet, new businesses have not been a target of the Ontario OHS system until just recently; they have also seldom been a focus of OHS research—a gap this project hopes to address.

Objectives of the study

  • Describe initiation of OHS management by new businesses
  • Identify and describe the factors associated with the initiation of OHS management (including specific OHS capabilities, motivations, opportunities, as well as contextual factors)
  • Examine processes undertaken by various people (internal and external to the new business) to develop OHS capabilities, OHS motivation, and OHS improvements in new businesses

Target audience

The results of this study will help OHS system partners and other organizations working with small businesses and small businesses themselves.

Project status


Research team

Collaborators and partners

Adina Croitoru (Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development), Andrew Bonisteel (Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery)

Funded by

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)