Urgent action is needed to improve the safety culture at many workplaces, according to a recent survey of more than 3,000 Australian business people, which included OHS professionals, senior managers, HR practitioners, CEOs and board members.
It found that 41 per cent of the OHS personnel surveyed did not believe their organisation had a "well entrenched OHS culture", while only a quarter of HR personnel/senior managers and just 11 per cent of CEOs and board members held this view.
Furthermore, 49 per cent of OHS personnel believed that efforts to minimise OHS risks were being impacted by concerns about reduced productivity, while only one quarter of CEOs/board members and senior managers also expressed this view, according to the joint Australian Institute of Management (AIM) VT and Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) survey.
Federal Government statistics on workplace fatalities reveal that on average more than 400 Australians die each year from work related traumatic injuries and thousands more suffer long term injuries.
The survey also pointed to a worrying gap between the views of CEOs/board members and OHS personnel about safety commitments, with only 47 per cent of OHS personnel and 55 per cent of HR practitioners believing that top level management walks the safety talk, compared to 81 per cent of CEOs/board members and 70 per cent of senior managers.
Furthermore, only 41 per cent of OHS personnel had participated in management and leadership training.
Leading innovation and change, strategic planning and managing people and performance were cited by OHS practitioners as the three areas in most need of management training and professional development.
The survey also found that competing priorities (39 per cent) and insufficient resources (29 per cent) are the top factors that impede on an organisation's efforts to meet or exceed its health and safety performance targets.
An additional 40 per cent of survey respondents do not believe or are unsure that OHS communication between managers and their direct reports is effective.