Assessment of occupational safety and health programs in small businesses

Am J Ind Med. 2004 Apr;45(4):371-9. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10336.


Background: Occupational safety and health (OSH) programs are a strategy for protecting workers' health, yet there are few peer-reviewed reports on methods for assessing them, or on the prevalent characteristics of OSH programs, especially in small businesses.

Methods: We adapted an occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) survey instrument to assess: management commitment and employee participation, workplace analysis, hazard prevention and control, and education and training. This was supplemented by a series of open-ended questions. We administered the survey in 25 small worksites.

Results: Scores for each element ranged widely, with distribution of most scores being positively skewed. Barriers to addressing OSH included lack of time and in-house expertise, and production pressures. External agents, including corporate parents, liability insurers, and OSHA, played an important role in motivating OSH programs.

Conclusions: Small businesses were able to mount comprehensive programs, however, they may rely on outside resources for this task. Being small may not be a barrier to meeting the requirements of an OSHA program management rule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / classification*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Safety*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration