Australia’s safety leaders remain divided over the best way to measure performance, but agree that cultural change is the key to improving worker safety and wellbeing.
The report on hand injuries in Australian workplaces has now been released. "In Safe Hands: The State of Hand Protection in Australia 2016",
The report shows that more than one-third of Australian companies are unaware of how much hand injuries are costing their business.
The independent, industry-first research into hand injury rates, reporting and management practices in Australia highlighted that only 28 percent of employers track hand injury costs and 48 percent have only a partial picture of the full cost of hand injuries.
A survey was carried out across 17 different industries and included small employers of 24 people to organizations with more than 100 employees. The objectives were to evaluate current safety practices and procedures; the measurement and rating of hand injuries; cost of hand injuries and a review of which best practices have been implemented.
93 percent of organizations surveyed reported injuries to hands, with cuts (64 percent) abrasion (44 percent and impact (42 percent) being the most common.
Dean Clark, Marketing Manager of glove manufacturer Ansell, said the report highlights the difficulty faced by safety leaders in building safety performance and compliance that meets their commercial obligations when they don’t have a complete picture of the cost of injuries.
"Comments from respondents show significant differences in the level of understanding about the true cost of hand injury to businesses. When you consider the research was conducted across industries where safety is a key consideration, there is clearly a need for better education in addressing the costs of hand injuries by taking into account measuring costs of treatment, workers compensation, loss of productivity, re-training and insurance premiums.
"The ongoing debate between leading versus lagging indicators also emerged from the responses to the survey. Many respondents pointed to time constraints, reduced resources and cost-cutting by management as the primary challenge in managing safety.
Other general safety findings as a result of the survey -
- 73 percent of organizations indicated safety performance has improved year-on-year.
- safety leaders rated cultural initiatives as more useful or successful than technical or PPE improving safety performance,
- 75 percent of organizations measure lagging indicators such as LTI’s (complete day or shift time loss) and MTI’s (medical treatment injuries) and other lost time, while 73 percent measure leading indicators such as training hours and near hit reports,
Jamie Burrage, NSCA Foundation General Manager said it was interesting to note the value placed on an effective safety culture and employee engagement through coaching and mentoring, rather than a top-down prescriptive approach to safety at work.
"Many respondents identified the emerging new practice of mentoring to influence behavioural change as less useful. There appears to be a conflict in how senior management views the effectiveness of mentoring compared to the view of other management levels and workers," he said.
The research was undertaken in response to the Australian safety community’s need for benchmarking data about safety performance and best practices within the Australian Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)/ Work Health and Safety (WHS) industry. The independent research company A carried out the survey in conjunction with the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA) Foundation and Ansell.
A collected data over a period of five months and interviewed more than 200 members of the Australian safety community.
Complete details of the survey and outcomes are available. To download the full report please click here