Risky Business

Posted on by Garrett Burnett, MS, MBA; Brenda Jacklitsch, MS; and Tom Cunningham, PhD

USE 2017 conference logoSmall businesses are where the action is. They are hotbeds for innovation, enthusiasm, and job creation. We loved meeting the entrepreneurs who participated with us and OSHA in the Hear and Now Noise Safety Challenge. Innovators like these are willing to take risks to pursue their great ideas. Small Business Week is all about celebrating hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about embracing the risk of undertaking a daring new venture.

Unfortunately, another risk awaits the smallest businesses. The data show that small enterprises are more likely to experience workplace injuries and illnesses than their larger counterparts. [1,2,3] This is a big problem, and not only because of what it means to the people and families affected. As one research team found, businesses that lasted five years had less than half the annual workplace injury rate as businesses that lasted only two years. [4]

This is a worldwide problem, not just limited to small firms in the United States. In 2009, the first Understanding Small Enterprises (USE) conference was held in Denmark to address this pressing issue. This October, USE2017 is being held in Denver, CO. It will feature researchers, business owners, and health and safety experts exploring best practices and innovative approaches to mitigate the physical risks of working in a small business. Early bird registration is available until June 1, and small business owners can register at a discounted rate.

Running a small business is a thrilling proposition. But we want to ensure that workers are not putting their lives or their health at risk. USE2017 is an opportunity for stakeholders from all around the world to share their solutions for improving small business safety and health.

Garrett Burnett, MS, MBA, is a technology transfer specialist in NIOSH’s Research to Practice Office and an assistant coordinator for NIOSH’s Small Business Assistance Program.

Brenda Jacklitsch, MS, is a health scientist with the NIOSH Education and Information Division and an assistant coordinator for NIOSH’s Small Business Assistance Program.

Tom Cunningham, PhD, is the chief of NIOSH’s Training Research and Evaluation Branch and the coordinator for NIOSH’s Small Business Assistance Program.


Champoux, D., & Brun, J.-P. (2003). Occupational health and safety management in small size enterprises: an overview of the situation and avenues for intervention and research. Safety Science, 41, 301-318.

Hasle, P., & Limborg, H. J. (2006). A Review of the Literature on Preventive Occupational Health and Safety Activities in Small Enterprises. Industrial Health, 44, 6-12.

Sinclair, R. C., Cunniningham, T. R., & Schulte, P. A. (2013). A Model for Occupational Safety and Health Intervention Diffusion to Small Businesses. American Juournal of Industrial Medicine, 56, 1442-1451.


Posted on by Garrett Burnett, MS, MBA; Brenda Jacklitsch, MS; and Tom Cunningham, PhD

3 comments on “Risky Business”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    For occupational safety and health research purposes, the NIOSH Small Business Assistance Program generally considers small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees. There is a need to devote greater research attention to how business size impacts workplace safety and health, which will be part of the discussion at the USE conference.

    Informative article, learned something new about small business and your survey will help to take specific preventive action for small business.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated site and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

Page last reviewed: May 8, 2017
Page last updated: May 8, 2017