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OSH strategies targeting microenterprises and SMEs

An evaluation study of INRS’s different strategies and actions targeted at microenterprises and SMEs

This evaluation relates to the different strategies and actions deployed by INRS for microenterprises/SMEs employing fewer than 50 people over the 2007-2017 period.

The concern for small businesses is legitimate in view of the number of workers they employ (7.2 million employees, i.e. 40% of the labour force registered with the French general social security scheme), the poor dissemination of risk prevention actions aimed at this target, and the occupational accident rate: 53% of the accidents occur in businesses employing fewer than 50 people. That overall figure takes on particular significance for professions or trades in which small businesses are in a majority, since a very high proportion of accidents occur in businesses employing fewer than 20 people. This applies to traditional restaurant work and catering, the building trades, road haulage, automobile repair, etc. Indeed, the figures from the latter sector are eloquent: 88% of the businesses employ fewer than 20 people, and account for 83% of occupational accidents.


Therefore, it was important for INRS to evaluate the impact and the relevance of its actions aimed at this priority target.


The evaluation conducted shows that microenterprises/SMEs have a variety of occupational health and safety needs. These needs have changed and the need for close support remains considerable. The study also makes it possible to assert that INRS's productions do indeed meet the risk prevention needs and expectations of microenterprises/SMEs. The sector- and trade-based approach is relevant. But the assessment also emphasises that microenterprises have a significant need for close support from a panel of different relaying intermediaries. These relaying intermediaries play an essential part in raising awareness, mobilising, supporting, and advising businesses, which are increasingly convinced of the utility of occupational risk prevention. Analysis of the summary shows that the relaying and cascading is even more effective when the numerous intermediaries are different and share a common vision of occupational health and safety, which is obtained through having tools that are co-constructed, promoted, and disseminated.

The lessons that can be learnt from the evaluation report are based on:

  • Analysis of the documentation handed over by INRS;
  • Exploitation of the financial and activity data handed over by INRS;
  • A series of eight scoping interviews conducted with the general management of INRS, with members of its Board of Directors, and with the staff of various INRS divisions;
  • Interviews conducted with seven institutional players;
  • Three surveys conducted on the various relaying intermediaries who relay INRS's action. Nearly 1,000 respondents:
    •  179 from CARSATs-CRAMIF-CGSSs (occupational health and pension insurance funds, the Paris regional health insurance fund, and overseas general social security funds) and 279 from SISTs (inter-company or intra-company occupational health services), i.e. 458 questionnaires
    • 407 questionnaires from INRS-certified trainers
    • 90 questionnaires from non-OHS-professional relaying intermediaries: 9 Chamber of Commerce and Industry consultants, 16 chartered accountants, and 65 respondents from trade associations and federations.
  •  703 responses from managers of microenterprises/SMEs in 4 sectors: Road haulage (209); Carpentry, joinery, and wood processing (196); Hotels with restaurants (220) and without restaurants (78),
  • 300 responses from employees of microenterprises/SMEs in the above-mentioned 4 sectors;
  • The findings of a compared analysis (benchmarking) with bodies outside France [Austria – AUVA; Ireland – HSA; Germany – DGUV; and Quebec – IRSST) and with two French bodies [ANACT (French agency for the improvement of working conditions) and OPP BTP], who are counterparts of INRS; and;
  • A one-day seminar bringing together the main actors that relay actions to small businesses.
To download the study
Last update on 01/03/2019