Achieving Peak Performance
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Cary L. Cooper and Ronald J. Burke
Chapter 8: Health and Safety in Small Businesses
Sharon Clarke Companies employing fewer than 250 employees constitute 99.9 per cent of UK businesses; they accounted for more than half of employment (59.4 per cent) and turnover (50.1 per cent) in the UK for 2008 (DBIS, 2009). Whilst small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continue to grow and prosper, in terms of occupational safety and health, there is evidence that SMEs experience significantly higher accident rates than large firms (Fabiano et al., 2004; McVittie, et al., 1997). Furthermore, it has been estimated that the rate of workplace injury and ill health in SMEs is approximately twice that found in large organizations (Pearson, 2001). Nevertheless, as noted by Hale (2003) the “vast majority of studies of safety management come from the large, bureaucratic organizations that run high-hazard technologies such as power utilities, process industry, mining, and transport . . . there are relatively few studies of small and medium-sized companies” (pp. 186–7). Thus, although health and safety risks appear to be significantly higher in SMEs, there has been limited research conducted to understand the reasons for these elevated risks. There has also been a tendency for researchers to consider both mediumsized and smaller businesses as a collective, whereas there is evidence that occupational safety and health issues are particularly acute for small enterprises (with fewer than 50 employees) and micro-businesses, and may require different types of solutions (Champoux & Brun, 2003; Micheli & Cagno, 2010). This chapter will review the current literature on health and safety in SMEs, including small and micro-businesses, with particular emphasis...
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