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Social responsibility as an intermediary for health and safety in small firms

Lise Granerud (National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Research shows that socially responsible practices in small enterprises are mainly directed at employees, and the work environment is a target. The practices are mainly informal and non‐reported. However, studies of health and safety initiatives within a corporate social responsibility (CSR) context in small firms are absent. This paper aims to focus on the issues surrounding the debates.


Case studies of CSR and work environment in 21 small Danish firms obtained from three industries have been designed to generate insight into CSR motives and practices directed at health and safety. The investigation applied qualitative methods and theoretical approaches to CSR, small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs), and occupational health and safety.


The CSR initiatives are mainly motivated by ethical reasoning and by creating attractive workplaces to retain employees. The initiatives are particularly directed at employees' health and the psychosocial issues, and in most cases not applied strategically. External reputation outside the local community is not a motive.

Research limitations/implications

Future research might expand on the influence of CSR on the work environment, from supplier demands or on quantitative designs.

Practical implications

CSR occurs ad hoc as a coincident of internal needs, external requirements and a committed intrapreneur. CSR initiatives seem to strengthen the business case, particularly in the service sector.

Social implications

There are prospects for improved attention to health and safety through information shared in social enterprise networks or requirements from large customers.


There seems to be a potential for strengthening health and safety through a more formalised and strategic use of CSR, especially related to health and psychosocial issues.



Granerud, L. (2011), "Social responsibility as an intermediary for health and safety in small firms", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 109-122.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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