Occupational Health and Safety(OHS) in Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs): A Primary Review1/SANTE ET SECURITE PROFESSIONNELLES(OHS) DANS LES PETITES ET MOYENNES ENTREPRISES(PME) : UNE REVUE PRIMAIRE

Article excerpt

Abstract:

Problems of occupational health and safety(OHS) in small and medium size enterprises(SMEs) in that mainly are private enterprises, are severe in China where as, the corresponding theoretical study are lagged behind regretfully. This paper summarizes the representative progress in this discipline simply. The exploratory results will be used to make an initial evaluation of SMEs needs, and will help orient future research.

Key words: Occupational health and safety, Small and Medium Size Enterprises, review

Résumé: Les problèmes de Santé et sécurité professionnelles(OHS) dans les petites et moyennes entreprises(PME) sont principalement ceux dans les entreprises privées et sont graves partout en Chine. La recherche théorique correspondante est largement et malheureusement arriérée. Cette thèse fait un résumé sur le progrès représentatif dans cette seule discipline. Les résultats exploratoires seront utilisés pour faire une évaluation initiale des demandes des PMEs et nous aideront l'orientation des recherches futures.

Mots-clés: Santé et sécurité professionnelles, les petites et moyennes entreprises, revue

1. INTRODUCTION

Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) having less than 50 employees comprise the majority of enterprises in many countries, and they employ 40~90% of the total work-force. Despite their economic importance and the number of employees dependent on them, SMEs have received very little attention in the past from Occupational health and safety (OHS) researchers in most countries. In terms of either research or support for preventive initiatives, estimates suggest that SMEs have serious problems aggravated by limited access to economic, human and technological resources. Moreover, it is now recognized that methods developed specifically for large firms cannot be transferred to smaller firms. In recent years China has become notorious internationally for weak OHS protection, with many fatal accident reported by its own media and international press. The research presented in this paper attempts to summarizes the representative progress in this discipline.

2. OHS IN SMES IN DEVELOPED COUNTRY

The potential of SMEs in European economic growth has been recognized by the European Union and a number of supportive activities developed to improve the business environment for SMEs. Some programs, such as "introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work" aimed at facilitating improvements in health and safety in SMEs, have been developed since 1980. Its introduction in 1989 was hailed as a major advance in OHS legislation and placed the emphasis on risk management as the backbone of workplace health and safety management (Neal & Wright, 1992). As a result, all European Union member states were required to introduce national legislation that implements the requirements of the Directive by the end of 1992. European business was thus faced with the challenges of implementing this legislation, following a proliferation in the late 1980s and onwards of accredited quality management systems. In some cases, the introduction of quality management systems has led to improvements in health and safety performance (Redman, Snape, & Wilkinson, 1995).

Within the United Kingdom (UK), supporting small firms in managing health and safety risk continues to be priority for the UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC, 1998) and they have undertaken several supportive actions (Borley, 1997). A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce indicated that the majority of small firms regarded health and safety as important, but adopted a "common sense" approach to it. They also considered that regulations were too complex and time consuming and were reluctant to approach the UK Health and Safety Executive for fear it might stimulate a visit.

Key differences between the UK and Spanish are that there is an enhanced level of awareness of health and safety legislation, a higher prevalence of safety and quality management systems, and a greater involvement of senior managers in managing health and safety in UK enterprises. …