Working group on Small and Medium Size Businesses

Picture of Chair and Scribes

Chair: Christa Schweng EU
Cochair: Rosslyn Fontaine US
Scribe: Dennis O'Brien US


  • Legislation
  • Motivating safety and health through the awareness of the economic impact
  • Ready-made instruments for small business
  • Sources of compliance assistance

Common Characteristics

  • Both US and EU value small business and provide certain exemptions for compliance and special consideration in developing new regulations
  • SMEs are NOT just miniature versions of large businesses


  • Cultures
  • Languages
  • Unemployment/employment rates
  • Workers' compensation/occupational accident insurance

Sources of Assistance

  • Government
  • Labor unions
  • Employer Associations
  • Educational institutions
  • Advisory boards (national/international)
  • Insurance companies
  • Suppliers
  • News media
  • Associations of OSH professionals
  • Other Sources

Ready made instruments
(Unique to SMEs)

  • Training/Internet/Risk Assessment/Brochures
  • Business Breakfasts
  • Direct Contacts (on-site consultation - labor inspectors, insurers, health & safety representatives)

Raising Awareness
Selling OSH Requirements to SMEs

  • OSH is good business
  • Basic requirements: (expected by all workers)
    - Physical working conditions
    - Wages, job security, management relations
  • Worker motivators
    - Sense of community
    - Need for Appreciation
    - Individual growth

Productivity increases as these needs are met

Key Points

  • Lack of time for managers results in an attention deficit among managers of small businesses
  • Few instruments strictly addressed to small businesses - US & EU language problem
  • Health and Safety needs to be part of the educational curriculum
  • EU has documented risk assessment requirements - US has not
  • Integration of OSH into business philosophy
  • Employee participation is essential for health and safety
  • Networking
  • Hazardous activities may be outsourced to small businesses
  • Contractors need to encourage small businesses in good OSH practice
  • Is there a need for harmonization of equipment features, especially in agriculture and construction?
  • Vulnerable workers

Proposed Action Items

  • Create special links to sites for ready made SME information on the joint EU/US web site
  • EU Handbook of OSH Risk Assessments
    - Could this be made available in different languages on the web?
  • OSHA: make OSH publications available in different languages on the web
  • More research needed among SME to determine motivating factors for employers
  • US: study the EU tripartite approach to OSH issues regarding SMEs