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

Report cover

Published: December 2008

by: 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 KL, Amick B

Small businesses play an important role in the economy. Over half of the labour force in the Canadian private sector is employed in small firms. However, there are challenges to delivering occupational health and safety (OHS) support to small businesses. Although workplace fatality rates are frequently higher in industries dominated by small businesses, an accident at any one firm is relatively rare. This relative invisibility of risk in small firms is compounded by the economic instability of small firms. Thus, workplace health education, surveillance and interventions in small firms are challenging.

This systematic review by the Institute for Work & Health was conducted to identify effective occupational health and safety interventions and implementation directions for small businesses. This report explains what the systematic review found in response to these key questions: What understandings, processes and interventions influence OHS in small businesses? Do OHS interventions in small businesses have an effect on OHS outcomes? How do small business workplace parties understand and enact processes related to OHS?