In this section data from different sources regarding MSEs is provided.
MSEs - Key economic agents
There appear to be compelling reasons to ascribe a central importance to micro and small companies (MSEs) as economic agents in the EU.
By numbers of enterprises, micro companies constituted more than nine of out ten companies (92.4%) in the non-financial business sector of EU28 in 2013, while small enterprises accounted for 6.4%.
Fatal accidents within enterprise size classes
Over the period 2008-2012 the largest share of fatal accidents occurred among workers in enterprises with up to 49 employees.
Trends in fatalities in recent years also suggest that the effects of economic recession and recovery were felt across all size bands.
Risk assessment as the cornerstone of OSH in Europe
A proper risk assessment and management is the most effective way to ensure OSH in enterprises and as such a legal obligation.
The figure shows that 77% of the sampled businesses in ESENER-2019 carried out risk assessment regularly, but also that MSEs were less likely to conduct risk assessment on a regular basis. Compared to 96% of large businesses with 250 or more employees, only 80% of small businesses, and 70% of micro businesses with at least 5 employees, indicated that they regularly conducted a risk assessment.
Reasons why workplace risk assessments are not carried out regularly
Smaller establishments report more often that the risks are already known or there are no major problems.
The lack of expertise as well as the onerous procedure seem to be more reason for bigger companies not to implement a risk assessment. In line with general findings from the SESAME project, these figures indicate that MSEs tend to underestimate the OSH risks and overestimate their knowledge about them.
Enterprises reporting the use of external service providers
Larger establishments report using OSH service providers less frequently than their smaller counterparts.
While around 51% of micro businesses and 47% of small businesses (5-49 employees) report working with external OSH service providers, the figure decreases to 17% for companies with more than 249 employees.
How often OSH is discussed between employee representatives and the management
All forms of formal employee representation enabling clear participatory arrangements are less likely to be in place for smaller companies.
Participatory workplace arrangements are associated with improved OSH management practices, which, in turn, might be expected to lead to improved OSH performance outcomes. However, the proportion of establishments saying that OSH issues are regularly discussed between employee representatives and management increases significantly by size.