Small Business Safety and Health


NIOSH has led a research program focused on small business safety and health for more than two decades because we know workers in small businesses are injured and killed on the job at a higher rate than workers in larger businesses.

Over the years, the Institute has expanded research focus from identifying small businesses in high-risk sectors to understanding how community networks affect worker safety and health.

According to the NIOSH blog, small businesses often have limited resources, and “we must adapt our efforts and create solutions that are accessible in these economic situations. Although these organizations are small, they can make a big impact on the well-being of the people they employ.”

A “small” business is defined in many ways. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.7% of all U.S. firms are considered small businesses, with fewer than 500 employees (Narrowing the distinction further, just over one-third (34%) of the U.S. workforce is employed by a business with fewer than 100 employees.

For discussions of workplace safety and health and for research purposes, the NIOSH Small Business Assistance Program considers small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees. NIOSH researchers have also found that other than number of employees, it is important to consider factors such as age of the business, structure of the ownership, and availability of resources for workplace safety and health.