National machine guarding program: Part 2. Safety management in small metal fabrication enterprises
Background Small manufacturing businesses often lack important safety programs. Many reasons have been set forth on why this has remained a persistent problem.
Methods The National Machine Guarding Program (NMGP) was a nationwide intervention conducted in partnership with two workers' compensation insurers. Insurance safety consultants collected baseline data in 221 business using a 33-question safety management audit. Audits were completed during an interview with the business owner or manager.
Results Most measures of safety management improved with an increasing number of employees. This trend was particularly strong for lockout/tagout. However, size was only significant for businesses without a safety committee. Establishments with a safety committee scored higher (55% vs. 36%) on the safety management audit compared with those lacking a committee (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions Critical safety management programs were frequently absent. A safety committee appears to be a more important factor than business size in accounting for differences in outcome measures.