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Health at Work in Small and Medium Enterprises


Health and Safety at Work in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) presents a particular challenge for a number of reasons. 
  • On the one hand a large majority of the workforce is employed by SMEs
  • Each SME could argue that its resource to protect and promote health at work is much less than that of a large enterprise and therefore it could not aspire to the same standard.
  • There may be other reasons for the difficulties perceived in relation to SMEs....
  • Whatever the reasons, the consequences appear to be significant, thus the rates of fatal injury and of amputation injury in small manufacturing workplaces (those with fewer

  • than 50 employees) are quoted as being double those in large workplaces (200 or more employees). 
When the Health and Safety Executive/Local Authority Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA) published its Strategy for 1998/99, they considered that Occupational health and small firms should be the focus of their planning (see press release). 
work in a small foundry

Possible solutions:

  • One approach advocated by the Health and Safety Executive is the Good Neighbour Forum. The provenance of this good idea is unclear but it certainly seesm to date back a few years in Ireland for example in initiatives by the Health and Safety Authority
  • Providing better training and information for managers and employees in SMEs can be a useful way forward. A medium such as this (the WWW) could make a substantial contribution. See the commentary.
  • Other avenues can be pursued...
Whatever the 'solutions' advocated or implemented, a formal and adequately valid validation of measures specifically designed for SMEs is essential.