Analysis and Commentary

Safety issues are being seen, but not addressed – study

Analysis and Commentary

@AuManufacturing rarely reports the plethora of surveys and studies promoted by vendors who have a vested interest in gaining attention for their products. But occasionally we come across a study such as that from global technology company SafetyCulture, that reveals some uncomfortable facts about how workers feel about their workplaces.

SafetyCulture is a company which provides digital tools and processes to help people and organisations work safely, meet higher standards, and improve operations, so presumably it knows a more than most about how employees, the key to any company’s culture, think about the places where they work.

SafetyCulture’s latest Feedback from the Field: Room for improvement report, which gives insight into the views of ‘frontline workers’ in Australia, the UK and USA, reveals that many Australian frontline workers see clear operational and safety issues in their workplaces regularly.

But they also believe that these issues are rarely addressed, with 69 percent saying that the best ideas for improvement come from their own ranks, and not from leadership – just 31 percent look to their leaders to improve their lot.

Frontline workers are defined as individuals who must ‘physically show up to their job’, including manufacturing and logistics workers.

Topline Australian findings include:

  • Three in five or 72 percent of Australian workers observe operational issues monthly
  • Almost four in five or 77 percent believe workplace injuries they’ve witnessed could have been prevented had those involved received better training
  • Workers in Australia were more likely to spot issues than their UK or US counterparts
  • And 75 percent of Australian frontline workers say they would prioritise their safety over higher salaries.

Chief Product Officer at SafetyCulture Sam Byrnes said: “It’s important to understand the feedback of our workers out on the frontlines.”

What workers are saying is that all is not well on our worksites, and managers could do a better job.

@AuManufacturing regularly reports on the death or injury of workers involved in industrial accidents – so it is not surprising perhaps that other, less serious incidents are going on with regularity.

Certainly there are a number of industrial companies – such as BlueScope Steel – that always report workplace safety first in any company announcement – ahead as it should be of profits and dividends.

But conversely the majority of company reports don’t mention safety at all, or if they do it is a footnote that suggests safety is not a central concern of our businesses.

This is seen in the Safety Culture finding that workers are missing out on valuable training, with more than three in four Australian frontline workers or 77 percent believing workplace injuries they’ve witnessed could have been prevented had those involved received better training.

Companies are probably a also missing out on improvements they could make to their businesses with 80 percent saying the business they are working in is not operating at full potential.

Nonetheless two in three or 65 percent of workers are optimistic about the future of their organisations, and recognise that with the right tools and communications, businesses have the opportunity to harness the latent potential within their frontline teams.

Picture: SafetyCulture

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