n Journal of Contemporary Management - Incident rates of small and medium enterprises in South Africa

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



While a 10-minute safety speech is being made, two persons will be killed and about 500 will suffer a disabling injury in the workplace. Too many lives are lost globally, not only in large enterprises but also in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Focusing on SMEs in South Africa, this article discusses the incident rate, the number of serious injuries incurred, the incident investigation processes that SMEs follow and the main reasons why incidents happen. It then offers suggestions on how to decrease the incident rate. The article has been based on an empirical study during which SME owners and managers were telephonically interviewed by means of a structured questionnaire. The results showed that too many incidents still occur, and that the incident investigation process is not always followed. Human error seems to be the main reason why incidents happen. It is believed that both managers and employees need safety-related education, as well as training and assistance to establish a safety environment in the workplace and implement a safety management system.

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