Entrepreneurs and Small-Scale Enterprises : Self Reported Health, Work Conditions, Work Environment Management and Occupational Health Services

Abstract: This thesis focused on factors contributing to improved work environment in small-scale enterprises and sustainable health for the entrepreneurs. In Study I, implementation of the provision of Systematic Work Environment Management (SWEM) with and without support was investigated. Two implementation methods were used, supervised and network method. The effect of the project reached the employees faster in the enterprises with the supervised method. In general, the work environment improved in all enterprises. However, extensive support to small-scale enterprises in terms of advice and networking aimed at fulfilling SWEM regulations had limited effect – especially considering the cost of applying these methods. Studies II, III, and IV focused on entrepreneurs’ health, work conditions, strategies for maintaining good health, and utilisation of Occupational Health Service (OHS). A closed cohort of entrepreneurs in ten different trades responded to two self-administered questionnaires on health and work conditions, with five years between the surveys: at baseline, 496 entrepreneurs responded, and 251 entrepreneurs responded at follow-up. Differences were tested by Chi2-test, and associations estimated with logistic regression analyses. Qualitative interviews on entrepreneurs’ strategies for maintaining good health were included. In Study II, the most frequently reported complaints, musculoskeletal pain and mental health problems, were associated with poor job satisfaction and poor physical work environment. In Study III, consistent self-reported good health, i.e. good health both at baseline and at follow up, was associated with self-valued good social life when adjusted for physical work conditions and job satisfaction. Entrepreneurs’ strategies for maintaining good health included good planning and control over work, flexibility at work, good social contact with family, friends and other entrepreneurs, and regular physical exercise. Study IV concerned entrepreneur’s utilisation of OHS. Entrepreneurs affiliated to OHS had either better or more adverse work conditions than non-affiliated entrepreneurs. Medical care and health check-ups were the services most utilised. Affiliation to OHS correlated with use of specific information sources and active work environment management. The entrepreneurs were not consistently affiliated to OHS over the five-year-period.