General working conditions in small industries tend to depend largely upon the attitude of the employers or owners. Occupational hazards to workers in such industries are not restricted to the developing countries but are also serious in highly industrialized countries as well, and in almost all cases are more serious than those in large establishments engaged in similar industrial activity. In small industries, health problems sometimes take on epidemic proportions, and occupational injuries are prevalent due to lack of in-service training, poor housekeeping, deficient handling methods, and bad layout of machinery. Small industries usually hire workers indiscriminately from many vulnerable groups, including the very young, the old, and the partially handicapped. The lack of social amenities required to facilitate the employment of women imposes a strain on working mothers as regards the care of their children.
Small industries and mines (less than 100 workers) have been estimated to employ almost 70% of the world's work force in manufacturing, mining, and related trades (with a range of 45-95% in different countries).