Workplace culture


To inform the design and successful implementation of work health and safety policy Safe Work Australia is conducting research that focuses on understanding workplace cultures that drive work health and safety behaviour at both individual and organisational levels. Understanding differences in belief systems, attitudes, perceptions and motivations of different actors in the work health and safety regulatory system is important in gauging whether new policy will be successful in achieving its intended purpose.

Current and recent work

Motivations, Attitudes, Perceptions and Skills project

Project One

The first stage of the Motivations, Attitudes, Perceptions and Skills (MAPS) project aimed to collect baseline information on the socio-psychological factors which impact on work health and safety behaviour. Data were collected in 2009-10 by computer assisted telephone interviews from 762 Australians aged 18 and over who worked in the five industry groups at high risk of occupational injuries including Agriculture, forestry and fishing, Construction, Health and community services, Manufacturing, and Transport and storage. The following reports highlight some key findings:

Project Two

The second phase of the project will run from 2011 to 2014. This work is being conducted in partnership with The Australian National University under an ARC-funded project. It will investigate the role that motivations, attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and skills, social norms and other socio-psychological factors play in shaping the compliance behaviour of individuals and organisations and how organisations and individuals address work health and safety matters and comply with work health and safety regulation. As well, it will examine how regulators seek to influence compliance. Data will be collected in small and medium enterprises in both metropolitan and regional settings in the manufacturing, construction and health and community services industries and from work health and safety regulators.

Project Three

This project will examine how learning, knowledge and skills are translated into behaviour and used in working life. Workers from the construction, nursing and physiotherapy industries will be interviewed: students entering these industries; and, those who have worked in these industries for about five years. Data will be collected in 2013.

Work Ability project

The participation of mature age workers in the workforce is recognised as important to both the Australian economy and to those mature age people who wish to engage in work. In 2005, the ASCC highlighted the value of work ability in the context of older workers and recommended that: “individuals need to be assessed for their work ability, allowing mature workers’ strengths to be utilised, while compensating for any age related impairment”. To address this recommendation and consider the implications in terms of work health and safety for older workers, Safe Work Australia undertook the Work Ability project. Data collection has been completed and a report will be finalised and published in 2012-2013.

Safe Work Australia has published a report by the University of Sydney about the findings of the Work Ability in Australia pilot study. Work ability is the capacity of workers to meet the demands of their jobs.

View the Work Ability in Australia Pilot Study and Research Brief.

Other relevant reports

2001: OHS implications of stress at work - the New Zealand perspective

2001: Work stress theory and interventions: From evidence to policy

See also:

2001: KPMG Consulting (2001) Key management motivators in Occupational Health and Safety: research for the CEO and Supervisor Drivers Project. A report for the National Occupational Health & Safety Commission. (Includes volumes 1. Main report; 2. Case studies; and 3. Telephone survey)

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