New study compares the work environments of large and small undertakings

Employees have twice as much access to occupational health services in large
undertakings as in small ones, and opportunities of training in paid working
time are also greater in firms with more than 50 employees. But the proportion
of work-related disorders due to stress and other forms of mental strain is
appreciably lower in small undertakings than in large ones.

These are among the findings presented in a recent Swedish report ­ the first
of its kind ­ based on a total of six work environment surveys between 1997 and
2002, supplemented by data from the Income Statements Register and the
Enterprise Database. The study sets out to describe work environment conditions
in four specific areas of employment and size categories in retail trade,
construction, engineering and transport.

Sweden has nearly 400,000 business undertakings, of which 380,000 or 96 per
cent are small firms with fewer than 20 employees. Together these firms account
for roughly a quarter of the enterprise sector's workforce. Half as many people
(13 per cent) are employed by medium-size firms with between 20 and 49
employees, while nearly two-thirds or 61 per cent are to be found in large
undertakings (those with 50 or more employees).

Do differences occur in one and the same area of employment? How do working
conditions compare between different employment areas and undertaking sizes?

Retail trade apart, all the areas of employment specially investigated employ
mostly men, whatever the size of undertaking. Small firms have a larger
proportion of young persons and a larger proportion of employees with
short-term contracts, especially where men are concerned.

The engineering industry differs from the other three by the proportion of
employees with work-induced physical disorders being greater in small firms
than in large ones. In retail trade the opposite applies: the proportion of
employees with physical and other disorders is lower in small firms than in
large ones.

"This may be connected with age structure, and it can also be put down to
variation at work," says Elisabeth Broberg, head of the Work Environment
Authority's Statistical Division. "Construction and transport do not present
any noticeable differences between small firms and big ones regarding the
incidence of disorders."

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work