Are There Unavoidable Risks in Your Workplace?

Safe Work Australia released a report called Work Health & Safety Perceptions: Manufacturing Industry in February 2015 that contains food for thought in all workplaces.

It is clear from this report that there is a good deal of correct and commendable actions being taken in the manufacturing industry but there is also cause for concern in the manufacturing industry and perhaps in your workplace too.

Unavoidable Risks

A cause for concern because the research results set out in this report show that:

- “Almost a third of workers and 13% of employers regard risks as unavoidable in the workplace.”

See page 25 Work Health & Safety Perceptions: Manufacturing Industry - Safe Work Australia

Where Did the Perception of Unavoidable Risks Come From?

The following situations revealed in the research probably played a significant part in the creation of the idea that risks are unavoidable in the workplace:

- “20% of manufacturing businesses did not identify safety issues and only two thirds put in place safety measures”

- “Some workers and employers also accept risk taking if they are short on time.” At least one in 5 workers and employers accept risk taking if there is time pressure”

- Small to medium manufacturing businesses “nominated time and financial pressures as major barriers to work health and safety.”

Serious Workers Compensation Claims

(A serious workers compensation claim is one where the employee is off work for 1 or more weeks)

It seems inevitable that the acceptance of risk by workers and employers and the 3 situations listed above would result in more injuries.

And it is a fact that the serious rate of workers compensation injury or illness claims in the manufacturing industry in 2012-13 was 61.2% higher than the national average of claims made by all the employees in Australia. (see pages4 and 53, Australian Workers Compensation Statistics, 2012-13, Safe Work Australia)

However the manufacturing industry has more serious hazards than many other industries and there are a few industries and occupations that have higher rates of serious claims. See table 30 on page 53 Australian Workers Compensation Statistics, 2012-13, Safe Work Australia) for the incidence rate of serious claims in various industries

And How Are Things in Your Workplace?

The research and statistics in the two Safe Work Australia reports referred to above does help us focus on the reality of the potential for injury that exists when workers and employers accept risk as unavoidable and the situations that might exist in your workplace that could create that perception.

You may find it useful to do your own research on perceptions about risk in your workplace.

You are welcome to download and distribute the article in your workplace if you feel it may be useful

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