Small enterprise owners' accident causation attribution and prevention

Tidsskriftartikel - 2009


Small enterprises have difficulty in the systematic prevention of accidents. This study explores how owners of small enterprises attribute accident causation and what they learn about accident prevention after an accident. Interviews were carried out with owners of 22 small (1-19 employees) construction and metal industry enterprises that recently had reported an accident with an expected injury absence of over two weeks. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The results reveal that after a relatively serious accident the owners predominantly attribute the incident to unforeseeable circumstances, and secondarily to worker faults. A possible explanation is both self- and group-defensive attributions in order to avoid responsibility and blame. The reciprocal and close social relations between owners and workers make it difficult for the owners to be solely responsible for the accident. The study presents a paradox: learning from the accidents seems to be negative as the owners need to abstain from accident prevention in order to maintain that accidents are unforeseeable, and the injured worker returns to work under the same unsafe conditions as before the accident. The study indicates that efforts to improve accident prevention in small enterprises need to find ways to avoid defensive attribution in order to attain successful outcomes.


Hasle PS, Kines PA, Andersen L. Small enterprise owners' accident causation attribution and prevention. Safety Science 2009;47(1):9-19.
doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2007.12.005

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