Safety and Health in Micro and Small Enterprises

Small and micro enterprises (SMEs) are an important part of a
nation's economic activities, however, due to the deficits in both human and
financial resources, SMEs tend to have higher rates of work-related accident
and diseases. In addition to the huge human suffering, as SMEs employ a large
proportion of the workforce in many countries, lower productivity in SMEs
caused by a higher rate of work-related accidents and diseases will prevent
sustainable national economic growth. As it is, the poor development of
occupational safety and health (OSH) in the SMEs is considered a widespread
issue in most countries, and it frequently constitutes one of the priorities
in the national political action on OSH. The problem arises from many factors
such as the lack of awareness towards the issue, the insufficient knowledge
and resources, the absence of the adequate external support adapted to the
SMEs, etc.

Although there are probably no universal solutions to the issue, there are
different experiences and best practices worldwide that can be shared in other
countries. Labour inspection plays a main role in improving workplace
compliance of OSH legislation, however, SMEs, as many of them are in the
informal economy, tend to be out of the reach of the formal institutions of
labour inspectorate. At the same time, the role of OSH inspection has been
gradually changing as a result of the increased responsibility taken by
enterprises with respect to OSH. Mechanisms for the self-assessment of
occupational risks have been implemented to this end.

A recent European Agency for Safety and Health at Work's publication presents
the findings of a study on understandings and experiences of occupational
safety and health (OSH) in 162 micro and small enterprises (MSEs) selected
from a range of economic sectors in nine EU Member States: Belgium, Denmark,
Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Sweden and United Kingdom. Each case
study involved a visit to the participating company and interviews with the
owner-manager and a worker, as well as observations of the activities of the

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