Small business health and safety

IWH research that specifically looks at injury prevention, return to work and other work-health issues in small businesses is collected together here. However, not included is IWH research that cuts across all sizes of business, including small business. For that reason, visitors are encouraged to explore beyond this page to find equally important information on the prevention of work injury and disability in small businesses.

IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

Understanding OHS motivations and needs in small businesses

Small businesses bear a disproportionate share of serious work-related injuries and fatalities. They also experience challenges in implementing occupational health and safety (OHS) practices due to limited OHS resources and expertise. In this presentation, Dr. Basak Yanar and Dr. Cameron Mustard share findings from a study that interviewed small businesses enrolled in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)'s Health and Safety Excellence program. The presenters discuss small businesses’ motivations for participating in the program, their OHS needs and challenges, and their perceptions of the support they received as part of the program.
Published: March 2024

Programs of early OHS intervention with small businesses

What existing OHS interventions for small businesses can be feasibly implemented in small business start-ups? This project aims to find out.
Status: Ongoing
Daily Commercial News logo
IWH in the media

OHS for small businesses the next challenge for Ontario: IWH president

Too many small workplaces do not have adequate occupational health and safety (OHS) tools available to keep their workers safe. Don Wall interviews Dr. Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health president, who says it’s time for Ontario to redouble its efforts to ensure the province’s small employers conduct business in healthy and safe environments.
Published: Daily Commercial News, July 2021
female factory worker sitting on floor with tools, looking worried about what to do
At Work article

Weaker OHS procedures, policies explain small employers’ higher injury risks: study

Workers at small firms are more exposed to hazards and report more work-related injuries and illnesses. But an IWH study finds injury risks in large and small firms even out when weaker OHS policies at small firms are accounted for.
Published: May 2021

Understanding the injury experience of Ontario small businesses through workers’ compensation claims data

By analyzing Ontario's workers’ compensation data, an IWH team is producing injury risk profiles by sector and workplace size, thus enhancing our understanding of risk in small businesses.
Status: Ongoing

Understanding OHS motivations and needs in small business

By looking at small businesses engaged with WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence Program, this IWH project is looking for effective approaches to delivering OHS services to small businesses and help them improve their safety cultures and outcomes.
Status: Ongoing
Young couple working at their small woodworking business
Impact case study

IWH model on breakthrough change used as foundation for WSPS small business strategy

An Ontario health and safety association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, turned to the Institute's model of breakthrough change to inform its approach to small business, especially the concept of finding the "knowledge transformation leader" within a small business to advocate for occupational health and safety change.
Published: December 2017
Illustrated concept of work team improving performance
Tools and guides

Breakthrough Change in OHS: Case study series

Each of four case studies tells the story of an Ontario organization that achieved firm-level, sustained improvement in health and safety performance. Each illustrates the factors critical to making large improvement in health and safety, based upon an evidence-based model of breakthrough change developed through Institute for Work & Health research.
Published: January 2014
Journal article
Journal article