Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 163–179 | Cite as

Effectiveness of Health and Safety in Small Enterprises: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Evaluations of Interventions

  • F. Curtis Breslin
  • Natasha Kyle
  • Philip Bigelow
  • Emma Irvin
  • Sara Morassaei
  • Ellen MacEachen
  • Quenby Mahood
  • Rachel Couban
  • Harry Shannon
  • Benjamin C. AmickIII
  • The Small Business Systematic Review Team


Introduction This systematic review was conducted to identify effective occupational health and safety interventions for small businesses. Methods The review focused on peer-reviewed intervention studies conducted in small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, that were published in English and several other languages, and that were not limited by publication date. Multidisciplinary members of the review team identified relevant articles and assessed their quality. Studies assessed as medium or high quality had data extracted, which was then synthesized. Results Five studies were deemed of medium or high quality, and proceeded to data extraction and evidence synthesis. The types of interventions identified: a combination of training and safety audits; and a combination of engineering, training, safety audits, and a motivational component, showed a limited amount of evidence in improving safety outcomes. Overall, this evidence synthesis found a moderate level of evidence for intervention effectiveness, and found no evidence that any intervention had adverse effects. Conclusions Even though there were few studies that adequately evaluated small business intervention, several studies demonstrate that well-designed evaluations are possible with small businesses. While stronger levels of evidence are required to make recommendations, these interventions noted above were associated with positive changes in safety-related attitudes and beliefs and workplace parties should be aware of them.


Small business Occupational safety Interventions Systematic review 



The authors wish to thank: Lisa Brosseau for her expert advice; Kiera Keown and Anita Dubey for their editorial advice; and Shanti Raktoe for administrative support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Curtis Breslin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Natasha Kyle
    • 1
  • Philip Bigelow
    • 1
    • 4
  • Emma Irvin
    • 1
  • Sara Morassaei
    • 1
  • Ellen MacEachen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Quenby Mahood
    • 1
  • Rachel Couban
    • 1
  • Harry Shannon
    • 1
    • 5
  • Benjamin C. AmickIII
    • 1
    • 6
  • The Small Business Systematic Review Team
  1. 1.Institute for Work & HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Seneca College, Counselling & Disability ServicesTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of Waterloo, Health Studies & GerontologyWaterlooCanada
  5. 5.McMaster University, Clinical Epidemiology & BiostatisticsHamiltonCanada
  6. 6.University of Texas, School of Public HealthHoustonUSA

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