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RR410 - Occupational health and safety support systems for small and medium sized enterprises

This report describes an international review of the occupational health and safety support systems (OHSSS) for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The aim of this review was to identify and review occupational health support models and programmes for SMEs similar in scope to the model proposed by HSE for its occupational health, safety and return to work support (OHSR) model. Searches revealed that there is little information on such models in the refereed occupational health literature; and, as such, information was sought from a combination of the Internet and contacts. A total of almost 40 projects / programmes were identified for inclusion in the study, from the UK, from Europe and the rest of the world. These spanned a broad range of project sizes, from Maintaining Work Ability programme in Finland, which delivered training to 23,000 people, to small scale projects involving a few dozen SMEs. Each of these has been reviewed to provide the evidence base contained in this report.

This review has highlighted the issues relating to each of the individual components of HSE’s proposed OHSR model. Each of these components has been used elsewhere either individually or in combination with some of the other components. Where individual components corresponding to those in HSE’s proposed model have been used in the systems reviewed, the available evidence was largely positive, although certain limitations have been noted. However, none of the systems reviewed has taken an holistic approach similar to that proposed by HSE.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2009-05-05