Leadership and Culture is an action area in The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22: Health and safety is given priority in all work processes and decisions. Attitudes towards risk taking and rule breaking in the workplace are a topic of interest for the Leadership and Culture action area.
The paper reports on the attitudes of Australian workers towards acceptance of risk taking and rule breaking in the workplace as measured by the Perceptions of Work Health and Safety Survey 2012-13. The Perceptions of Work Health and Safety Survey aimed to provide a baseline measure of work health and safety attitudes, beliefs and actions shortly after the model Work Health and Safety laws were introduced in 2012. The survey targeted four types of respondents: employers, sole traders, health and safety representatives and workers.
Workers were more likely to accept risk taking than their bosses. Labourers were generally more accepting of risk taking and much more accepting of rule breaking in comparison with workers in other occupations. Compared to the other priority industries, Transport, postal & warehousing employers were much more likely to agree that they break safety rules in order to complete work on time and were more accepting of risk taking at work.
These findings may help explain the high rates of injury and fatality within the Labourers’ occupation group and within the Transport, postal & warehousing industry. These findings suggest that aspects of the economic/ social environment as well as the workplace cultures of workers are likely to play a role in the acceptance of risk taking and rule breaking.