Published: 17/11/2021
Category: Work Health and Safety
Published: 17/11/2021
Category: Work Health and Safety

We all know it, but now we’ve got the numbers to prove it. Union workplaces are safer than non-union workplaces. 

Australian Unions recently released the latest “Work Shouldn’t Hurt” (WSH) survey. The survey was completed by over a thousand workers across Australia’s many industries and reveals the inner workings of just how safe our workplaces are.

Health and safety reps to the rescue

The WSH survey found a positive correlation between Health and Safety Representatives (HSR’s) being present and better-reported health and safety risks in the workplace.  

Long story short – union safety representatives make workplaces safer. 

79% of workers with an HSR present said their workplace complies with work health and safety policies, as opposed to 51% of workers with no HSR present.

Mental health and physical injuries need to be prioritised

Some pretty concerning conclusions were made from the WSH report regarding people’s mental and physical safety in the workplace. 

3 out of 10 workers sustained some kind of physical or mental injury in the last 12 months. 

28% of workers with work-related mental or physical injury did not take time off when they needed to. The survey also revealed that is that more than half of these workers didn’t take time off because they feared negative consequences for their job. 

One-third of all workers were regularly exposed to stress at work in the past 12 months. Further to this, industries with the highest rates of mental health injuries were the healthcare industry (28%) and the retail industry (27%). As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no secret that this period has disproportionately hit workers in these sectors.

The productivity trap

Workers’ conditions and safety measures are being whittled away by employers who need to cut corners for the sake of ‘productivity.’

An alarmingly low number of workers said that they had access to sufficient training (64%), support (60%), time (53%) and staff (49%) to do their jobs safely. 

During a time when people are working multiple jobs just to get by, it’s clear that our insecure job market is ramping up unsafe work practices.

Gendered violence swept under the rug

The survey revealed that unfortunately, workers are still being sexually harassed and assaulted in workplaces across the country at disturbingly high rates. 

One in five (20%) experienced some form of gendered violence or harrassment at work in the past 12 months. And the end result has left workers without justice. Only 31% of workers who took some form of action after an incident felt satisfied with their employers’ response.

There is still much ground to be made in processes that let workers feel comfortable in reporting this kind of gendered violence. 3 out of 10 workers who experienced either sexual assault or unwanted sexual attention took no action, citing reasons such as fear of a backlash or lack of faith in the process.

So where to from here? 

Insecure work is one of the root causes of Australian workplaces poor safety practices. We need to promote secure jobs across the country so workers physical and mental well-being are being looked after. 

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The verdict is in: Safe workplaces are union workplaces

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The verdict is in: Safe workplaces are union workplaces