Occupational Health and Safety for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Occupational Health and Safety for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Edited by E. Kevin Kelloway and Cary L. Cooper

Small and medium sized enterprises constitute the vast majority of businesses in most developed economies. Although a large number of people are employed in such organizations, research and practice in occupational health and safety has largely ignored the unique challenges of this sector. In this highly relevant book, international experts in the field summarize existing knowledge and identify the best practices for enhancing occupational health and safety in small and medium sized enterprises. The authors specifically identify solutions that are appropriate for small businesses.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Occupational Health and Safety in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

E. Kevin Kelloway and Cary L. Cooper

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, organisational behaviour


E. Kevin Kelloway and Cary L. Cooper Although small and medium sized enterprises play a vital role in the economy, issues of occupational health and safety are often ignored in such organizations. Researchers in occupational health and safety, as in other areas of organizational research, typically focus on large businesses where it is relatively easy to obtain large sample sizes. Interventions (e.g. inspections, training) to enhance occupational health and safety often require resources or expertise that are not readily available in smaller businesses and may, in fact, be inappropriate for small business (MacEachen et al., 2008). Moreover, the small business sector is characterized by financial fragility and instability, making it difficult to enforce occupational health and safety standards in this environment. Indeed occupational health and safety regulations may specifically exempt small businesses from particular provisions. For example, in Canada, joint management– labour occupational health and safety committees are required in virtually every occupational health and safety act but only for businesses with at least 20 employees – a provision that exempts most small businesses from the requirement. As a result of these characteristics, issues of occupational health and safety assume particular importance in a small business. Workplace fatalities are higher in industries characterized by a large number of small businesses (Lentz and Wenzl, 2006; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1999) and the solutions that are enshrined in contemporary occupational health and safety programming may be ineffective or irrelevant in the small business environment. Defining the term ‘small business’ is...