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Statistics show shocking number of workers doing unsafe tasks

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A national survey – commissioned by Slater and Gordon – shows almost half of Australian employees have agreed to do an unsafe task at work.

Almost half of Australian workers have agreed to do an unsafe task at work, according to a new national survey.

The survey – commissioned by Slater of Gordon – of more than 1,000 people shows that 42 per cent have agreed to take on an unsafe task at work with those aged 25 to 34 the most likely to do so at 51.1 per cent. 

These figures are especially poignant today as communities across Australia mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Slater and Gordon Senior Workers Compensation Lawyer Meghan Hoare said the safety of workers should be the most important priority of employers.

But unfortunately, sole workers are being put in situations where they are at serious risk.

“These numbers show that Australian employees are still being put in harm’s way in the workplace,’’ Ms Hoare said. “Employees are the most important part of any company and to see that almost half are being subjected to this is completely unacceptable.” 

The statistics also highlighted that men at 48.1 per cent were more likely to do an unsafe task than women (37.3%).

A total of 11.9 per cent of those surveyed said they were forced to do an unsafe task even after expressing their concerns about safety and in only 21.7 per cent of cases the task was made safer.

Reasons for doing the unsafe task include:

  • 45 per cent because of time constraints
  • 30 per cent through pressure from their boss
  • 24 per cent feared they would lose their job.
  • 15 per cent through pressure from co-workers
  • 11 per cent because of financial pressures

(Participants could provide more than one reason for doing a dangerous task)

In 23.3 per cent of cases, the dangerous task was assigned to someone else and in 1.9 per cent of cases the employee was fired. 

Almost 44 per cent of people said they had witnessed a colleague agreeing to do an unsafe task, with 59.7 per cent pointing out concerns about a dangerous task to their co-worker or their manager.

A total of 10.3 per cent of people did not raise the issue at all out of fear of retribution. 

State-based statistics can also be provided on request.