A recent survey of Australian workers found one in ten are afraid to report a safety breach over fears it will cost them their job, and one in five said they had made a safety complaint that was never fixed. An alarming 17 percent of respondents said colleagues had been fired after being hurt in the workplace.
The survey involved over 2000 workers from around the country aged between 16 and 55, and included workers from a variety of industries and professions. Shine Lawyers said it conducted the survey after it noticed a spike in the number of people that were seeking advice on workplace injuries, complaints, and safety issues.
Shine Lawyers employment expert Will Barsby said 35 percent of all Shine’s unfair dismissal cases stem from a safety complaint, and more than 70 percent of their workers’ compensation claims could have been avoided if prior complaints from workers had been actioned. Mr. Barsby told the ABC he believes the increased “casualisation” of the Australian workforce is to blame.
“People have no stability about their income, and sometimes they do whatever it takes, or don’t do whatever it takes, to maintain their financial security.”
However, Safe Work Australia Special Advisor Dr. Peta Miller laid the blame on employers, telling the ABC that organisations needed to foster workplace cultures that encouraged workers to speak up.
“Our evidence is showing us that, in fact, most workers will speak up if a positive organisational culture is created, where workers views are respected and listened to.”