Compared to small and “micro” businesses, larger companies have made more progress toward introducing the Total Worker Health (TWH) approach to worker health and safety, according to a recent study.
“Our results indicate a need for intervention research that specifically targets microbusinesses and small businesses, especially in light of the outsized health and safety risks encountered in these sectors of the economy,” write Liliana Tenney, MPH, and colleagues of Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Aurora, in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The Total Worker Health approach seeks to integrate traditional occupational safety and health approaches with injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. Using an assessment developed for their Health Links mentoring program, the researchers analyzed TWH implementation at 382 companies—ranging from large businesses with more than 200 employees to micro businesses with 2 to 10 employees.

While there was room for improvement in all groups, larger companies scored higher on the Health Links assessment. Out of a total possible score of 100, the average score was 63 for large companies, 47 for medium and small companies, and 33 for microbusinesses, a media release from Wolters Kluwer Health explains.

Larger businesses were likely to score higher on all six benchmarks included in the assessment, indicating “a more systematic and comprehensive approach to addressing health promotion and safety.” Smaller companies—especially microbusinesses—were less likely to have organizational supports, methods for assessing employee needs and interests, or integrated health and safety strategies. Smaller businesses were more likely to say their health and safety efforts were motivated by a desire to improve employee health, morale, productivity, and retention.

Most previous studies of TWH implementation have focused on large companies—despite the fact that employees of small businesses have higher rates of occupational fatalities, illnesses, and injuries, among other health risks.

The results suggest that TWH adoption and approaches vary by business size, reflecting different patterns of organizational behavior, the release continues.

“Our results indicate a need for intervention research that targets small businesses, notably to better understand how TWH is effectively implemented,” Tenney and colleagues conclude.

[Source(s): Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Newswise]