Workplace health not taken as seriously as safety - survey

A new survey shows most Kiwis don't think workplace health is taken as seriously as safety.
A new survey shows most Kiwis don't think workplace health is taken as seriously as safety. Photo credit: iStock

Most New Zealanders don't think workplace health is taken as seriously as safety, a survey suggests.

The results of Safeguard magazine's annual State of the Nation survey have been released, and they don't bode well for the 'H' in health and safety.

More than 900 people took part, consisting of health and safety practitioners, workers who are also health and safety representatives, and business owners or senior executives.

While 80 percent of the respondents believed worker safety is taken seriously in their place of employment, just 50 percent said the same about worker health.

Health is an essential but often overlooked component of workplace wellbeing.

Far more people die as a result of past exposure to workplace health risks, such as hazardous materials, than are killed by accidents in the workplace.

Many people develop hearing loss, breathing difficulty or serious long-term illnesses because of unsafe workplace environments.

The survey also reveals a discrepancy in attitudes between executives and employees.

While 87 percent of the 'higher-ups' - business owners or senior executives - said their staff were regularly asked for input into their workplace's health and safety, just 72 percent of workers said the same.

Seventy-eight percent of owners and executives said health and safety risks were discussed with other business using the same site, but only 59 percent of workers said this was true.

"These responses demonstrate a distinct gap between work-as-imagined (by the executives) and work-as-done (on the shop floor)" Safeguard said in a statement.

The results come two years after the Health and Safety at Work Act took effect on April 4, 2016.

The new legislation came about as the result of formal enquiries into the Pike River Mine explosion in 2010, which remains one of New Zealand's deadliest workplace disasters.

Newshub.