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Over 55 percent of Americans are employed in businesses with fewer than 100 workers. Policymakers have taken action to lessen regulatory burden on small business. However, evidence shows that small establishments-single physical locations-have much higher rates of deaths or serious injuries than do larger establishments. This study examined the relationship between fatality rate and business size, both in terms of establishment size and firm size, from 1992 to 2001. The analysis uses fatality data drawn from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accident investigation reports and employment data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau. The study found the following: (1) The smallest establishments had the highest fatality rates. (2) Within firms of a given size, fatality risk still declines steadily with larger establishment size, but if one controls for establishment size, firm size has little impact on risk. (3) In small establishments, there is some protective value in being a small firm. (4) Higher fatality rates in small businesses are related to OSHA violations. (5) Electrocutions are slightly more common in small establishments. (6) Fatality rates at small establishments declined slightly over time. (7) Nonmetropolitan location and unionization were both associated with higher establishment fatality rates.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Data and Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Findings

  • Chapter Four

    Implications for Policy and Research

  • Appendix A

    Comparison of OSHA IMIS and CFOI Data

  • Appendix B

    Fatality Rates for All Industry Sectors

  • Appendix C

    Discussion of the Poisson Regression Analysis

  • Appendix D

    Selected California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Policies and Procedures

  • Appendix E

    The Construction Sector

The research described in this report was conducted within the RAND Institute for Civil Justice under the auspices of the Kauffman-RAND Center for the Study of Small Business and Regulation. This research was supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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