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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Performance levelling off?

Performance levelling off?
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New Zealand

The incentivising effects of the HSW Act appear to be wearing off, with a new study showing health and safety performance in the highest-risk industries plateaued – and in some cases declined – in the year to January 2018.

The 2017 Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours Survey sought the views of some 3000 workers and 1900 employers, predominantly from the forestry, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and fishing industries, on a wide range of H&S indicators, including training, incident reporting, employee involvement and risk perception.

The five key industry groups participated in an initial benchmarking survey – conducted by Nielsen on behalf of WorkSafe and Maritime NZ – in 2014, with all except fishing going on to repeat the study each year thereafter.

(In 2017 the fishing industry again participated in the study, and its results, compared to the 2014 benchmark, are summarised in the following story.)

Aggregated results for the other four sectors show the most significant improvements in H&S practice and performance occurred in 2015, as businesses prepared for the introduction of the HSW Act. There was some further improvement in worker engagement and participation during 2016, but the new study shows these have since stalled, or slipped back to 2015 levels.

In the last 12 months there was an overall decline in the percentage of employers making significant H&S changes, and in those having regular H&S meetings or audits.

On top of this, some worrying statistics have remained almost unchanged since the surveys began. The proportion of workers who said they have never received H&S training has been constant across the years at 20%, while those who fail to report serious incidents sits steady at 10%, with the same unchanging percentage saying they have reported such events, but received no response.

Fewer than half the respondents from both groups identified their industries as high-risk, with only 6% of employers and 15% of workers accepting that there was at least a “moderate risk” of serious injury in their own workplace within the year – figures that again have shown little change since 2014.

In most subject areas, however, workers and bosses have significantly different views about the H&S performance of their organisations.

In 2017, employers were between 20 and 30 percentage points more likely than workers to say that safety was a top priority, that machinery and equipment were always well maintained, that workers were commended for working safely and encouraged to speak up about H&S concerns, and that they knew their views were considered when safety decisions were made.

Employers were also most likely to attribute risky behaviour to carelessness or inattention, while workers cited fatigue and working when sick or injured as the predominant causes.

Employee participation also does not seem to have been embraced in the majority of workplaces, with almost 60% of bosses saying they did not have H&S reps or champions.

It is not all bad news, however, with both workers and employers expressing increased confidence that staff received the information they needed to work safely – even if the 89% of employers who believed this was 16 points higher than the percentage of workers with the same belief.

Around half the respondents had provided or received training in the preceding year, with both employers and workers who had been involved with recent training showing greater confidence and a more proactive approach towards H&S management.

The survey also showed increasing awareness of WorkSafe among both groups, with those who said they had never heard of it or knew nothing about it now down to 9% for employers and 18% for workers. Personal contact with the regulator had increased as well, with 90% of employers and 79% of workers claiming to have had some form of contact – such as reading guidance material, seeing an advertisement, or visiting its website – in the preceding 12 months.



Organisations Mentioned:
WorkSafe NZ; Maritime New Zealand
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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