Research commissioned by WorkSafe Victoria and to be presented at the Safety In Action Conference will reveal that one in three supervisors say senior management is not serious about safety and another 9% are in denial. The safety regulator and watchdog surveyed 1160 Victorian supervisors and categorised them according to their attitudes about safety into six groups:
Carers and protectors
By the book
According to Jill McCabe, Division Manager, Workplace support and education, WorkSafe Victoria will present the findings at the conference in Melbourne. In a video interview filmed by conference host, the Safety Institute of Australia (Victoria Division), Jill McCabe said the research will help to guide training and education strategies for managers and supervisors.
The research has given WorkSafe Victoria food for thought in terms of what they as an organisation need to do in future to shape attitudes of supervisors and upper management. It also gives food for thought for particular organisations and the way they operate.
Describing the 33% of supervisors categorised as Disconnected or Disgruntled, Jill McCabe said both were in workplaces where upper management really do not seem to care about health and safety. The Disconnected supervisor personally cares about health and safety but their senior management does not, so they find it difficult to raise issues and get them dealt with in the workplace. The other group, the Disgruntled does not care about safety issues because their senior management also does not care.
According to Workplace and litigation lawyer, Andrew Douglas, a failure of senior management to communicate rather than an inherent disinterest in safety was likely to be behind the research results.
Barry Silburn, Safety Institute of Australia, National president and OHS consultant, was less optimistic in his assessment and thought the perception of supervisors is that many employers do not take safety seriously.
One model to promote greater interest in workplace safety will be presented to the Safety In Action Conference by the Federal Safety Commissioner, Helen Marshall, who presides over a construction industry scheme in which senior management commitment should prove a commitment to health and safety.
Jill McCabe, Gavin Merriman, Andrew Douglas and Helen Marshall will present their addresses to the Safety In Action Conference over three days at the Melbourne Convention Centre.