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One-in-three workers identify safety hazards

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One-in-three Australian workers (33 per cent) have witnessed unsafe practices at work, while one-in-six (17 per cent) have seen safety concerns being ignored, new research has revealed.

The research, commissioned by Slater and Gordon, surveyed more than 2,000 employed Australians.

Slater and Gordon workers compensation lawyer Meghan Hoare said it was up to employers to have appropriate policies and plans in place to avoid workplace incidents, while employees and their unions also play an important role in keeping workers free from harm.

“It’s obvious from our research that workers have their eyes open when it comes to identifying safety risks, but it’s not always clear how to bring it to the attention of employers,’ Ms Hoare said.

“Even worse, around one-in-six workers had actually seen a hazard being reported by a colleague only for that report to be completely disregarded.

“A key responsibility of all employers is to develop suitable procedures for dealing with workplace safety, and importantly they must follow those procedures to protect their employees.

“We simply cannot have a situation where workers can see a risk, but have their concerns ignored.”

Common concerns identified by the Australian workers surveyed include:

  • Understaffing and high workloads
  • Lack of training
  • Broken or faulty equipment
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Trip or fall hazards
  • Inadequate personal protective equipment
  • Untested and untagged electrical equipment
  • Unsafe driving (speeding and fatigue)
  • Unlicensed forklift operation
  • Improper chemical management

Ms Hoare said in most circumstances, workplace injuries in Australia were entirely preventable.

“In the blink of an eye, someone’s life can change dramatically, and it’s up to all of us to make sure this doesn’t happen,”

“While employers must have up-to-date safety systems and risk management plans the employees’ union often helps ensure employers adhere to the policies.” Ms Hoare said.

  • 38 per cent of Western Australian workers were aware of a workplace hazard, and 16 per cent saw a concern being ignored.
  • 34 per cent of New South Wales workers were aware of a workplace hazard, and 16 per cent saw a concern being ignored.
  • 33 per cent of South Australian workers were aware of a workplace hazard, and 15 per cent saw a concern being ignored.
  • 33 per cent of Queensland workers were aware of a workplace hazard, and 18 per cent saw a concern being ignored.
  • 32 per cent of Victorian workers were aware of a workplace hazard, and 16 per cent saw a concern being ignored.