27 Jun 2015

Bosses unaware of workplace risks - CTU

11:20 am on 27 June 2015

The Council of Trade Unions says the results of a workplace safety survey shows high risk industry bosses are out of touch with just how safe their staff feel.

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The WorkSafe New Zealand Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours Survey questioned more than 3,700 workers and 1,900 employers.

Seventeen percent of workers and 6 percent of employers surveyed thought there was at least a moderate risk of a worker getting seriously hurt in their workplace in the next 12 months.

CTU president Helen Kelly said that difference showed bosses did not understand the risks of the workplaces they ran.

A Wellington employment lawyer Hazel Armstrong said the survey bolstered the argument for workers to be more involved in health and safety plans.

Ms Armstrong said the results showed employers must talk with workers about risk assessment, because they would have a different perspective on the dangers they faced.

"You have to have good participatory structures and be open to hear what the worker has to say.

"If there's something like an 11 percent difference in assessment of risk between what employers think and workers think hence it's just telling you, the survey is telling employers and workers, 'look you have to come together to talk about how perceive the level of risk'."

Ms Armstrong said the survey also showed very low levels of reporting of incidents and serious harm.

"What they're finding, particularly in the agriculture industry, perhaps only two out of 10 incidents are being reported so there's a desperately low level of reporting in that sector."

WorkSafe said there was a culture of 'it won't happen to me' when it came to accidents in the country's high risk industries including forestry, agriculture and commercial fishing.