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Safer Healthier Workers

Selected Category: Small Business

Help for Small Businesses

Categories: Small Business


New businesses start with an idea, an opportunity, and a problem to solve. The path to profitability crystalizes as a business plan emerges. Then come the paperwork and licensing. New business owners must attend to innumerable tasks: negotiate with suppliers, trim costs, manage employees, push for revenue, secure capital, deliver to clients, and navigate regulations. Consistently listed among their top three challenges is meeting government regulations (along with attracting new customers and facing economic issues) [Wells Fargo 2015].

These countless details can be numbing. Safety and health considerations can fall to the wayside. The unfortunate fact is that on-the-job fatalities or injuries are most likely to occur in the smallest and newest businesses [Cunningham et al. 2014]. And workplace injuries early in the life of a business can significantly reduce its chance of survival [Headd 2010].

Overlapping Vulnerabilities

Categories: Construction, Occupational Health Equity, Small Business, Young Workers


cvr2015-178cNot all workers have the same risk of being injured at work, even when they are in the same industry or have the same occupation. Different factors can make some workers more vulnerable than others to workplace illness or injury. These include social dynamics, such as age, race, class, and gender; economic trends, such as growth of the temporary workforce; and organizational factors, such as business size.

The term “occupational health disparities” refers to increased rates of work-related illness and injuries in particular vulnerable populations. A growing body of research explores how a particular characteristic—such as being an immigrant/foreign-born worker, a worker under the age of 25, or an employee of a small business—can increase an individu­al’s risk for workplace injury or illness, and it suggests effective ways to improve the safety and health of these workers.

Health and Safety on the Open Market

Categories: Small Business

Happy Small Business Week! The Small Business Administration is hosting events across the country. While many of the gatherings are focused on various aspects of entrepreneurism, we at NIOSH wanted to share some thoughts on workplace safety.

Public health organizations want to provide small businesses with health and safety resources. Small business owners want a healthful and safe workplace. It sounds like a good deal, but there are two problems.

Problem 1: With such a large number of small businesses nationwide (79% of US firms have fewer than 100 employees), it’s impossible for public health organizations (whether it’s NIOSH, OSHA, a state health department, or others) to reach all of them. Even when they do, the tools they provide may not be right for small businesses.

How to Avoid Bear Attacks (and other small business concerns)

Categories: Manufacturing, Service Sector, Small Business, Wholesale and Retail Trade

Black bear routes through trash canRunning a small business and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains share a surprising parallel. Although the connection may not be obvious at first, consider the following:
The US National Park Service estimates that 1500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s 2 bears per square mile. Additionally, the Smokies welcome 9 million annual human visitors. Bears are dangerous to people (and vice versa), so the Park Service—acknowledging that bears can’t read and have only limited Internet access—has provided safety information for us humans:1

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