Manufacturing News

New research reports into workplace safety

Safe Work Australia has published four new research reports to help inform the development of Australian work health and safety policy and practice.

The reports describe the awareness of work health and safety among Australian employers and workers, indicate how employers and workers source work health and safety information, take a detailed look at the transport industry, and examine the prevalence of back and neck pain in young workers and the associated productivity loss.

Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Baxter, says that each report raises important implications for improving work health and safety.

“The research provides great insight into the extent to which Australian employers and workers are consciously aware of health and safety in their workplace and actively try to manage risks,” Ms Baxter said.

The transport industry report is the third in a series on priority industries that brings together findings from previous Safe Work Australia studies. Of concern was that acceptance of risk-taking and rule-breaking was much higher in transport than in any other industry.

“This report identifies some of the important factors that need to be addressed if we are to reduce the current high levels of injuries and fatalities in the transport industry, as well as improving health and safety more generally,” said Ms Baxter.

As the working population ages, there will be increasing reliance on the productivity of young workers. The research examined the health of young workers and the impact it has on their working lives and productivity. Back and neck pain was found to be common among the 23 year old workers in the study, with these workers taking nearly twice as much sick leave as workers who were pain free. The cost in lost productivity from absenteeism alone is estimated to be $139 million per year.

“Manifested over a career, the impact of back and neck pain from a relatively young age would have significant productivity costs at the organisation and national levels if not addressed in the workplace,” Ms Baxter said.

The four research reports and accompanying research briefs are:

1. Mindfulness of work health and safety in the workplace

2. Transport industry: Synthesis of research findings

3. Work productivity loss in young workers

4. Sources of work health and safety information in Australian workplaces.

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