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Employers vs Workers  – Work Health and Safety Perceptions In Construction (Report)

hard hat manA report has been released from Safe Work Australia summarising findings from construction employers and workers from six existing Safe Work Australia data sources and one data source held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The report presents areas where the construction industry is doing well and areas for improvement in relation to:
• disease-causing hazard exposures and workplace control measures
• work health and safety activities, and
• work health and safety perceptions and attitudes that may act as barriers or enablers to work health and safety.

Perceived Causes Of Injury

There are some differences between construction employers and workers in terms of perceived causes of injury.

Four in 10 employees in medium workplaces identified a lack of training and education as the main cause of injury.

This was followed by just not thinking (36%), being careless (33%) and risk taking (29%). Comparatively only 13% of employers nominated that a lack of training or education was a contributor to injuries. Twenty nine percent of workers reported that pressure and stress and 28% reported dangerous equipment and machinery were also main causes of injury.

Earlier findings from the 2009 Motivations, Attitudes, Perceptions and Skills (MAPS) survey echo these top three perceived causes of injury among workers in the construction industry, although in a different order: the worker being careless (47%), just not thinking (38%) and lack of training or education (30%).

Interestingly, 18% of workers nominated lack of supervision as a contributor to injury, compared with only 1% of employers.


Work Health and Safety Training

The WHS Perceptions survey provides information on the amount of training provided to workers. It shows that construction employers provided the least amount of health and safety training to their workers during the past 12 months. Sixty one percent indicated that they provided some training to their workers compared to 75% for the other priority industries and 62% for the non-priority industries.

Training was typically less than one day in length in the other priority and non-priority industries but in the construction industry 41% of training took two or more days.


Other Findings


  • Small and medium construction businesses tended to be less likely to review incident reports and statistics compared to large construction businesses.
  • Construction employers were more likely to indicate that safety practices are followed in the workplace than construction workers.
  • Just over half of workers in the construction industry who were exposed to airborne hazards were provided both PPE and administrative controls.
  • Construction workers were more likely to be exposed to airborne hazards, vibration, noise, chemicals, biomechanical demands and sun than in other priority industries.
  • Alcohol and drugs were perceived to be a more common cause of injury among small businesses than medium or large businesses.
  • The construction industry had the highest proportion of workers who had not returned to work since their illness or injury occurred.
  • Construction businesses spent more time preparing Safe Work Method Statements compared to the other priority industries.

What Can Be Done

Download Course OutlinesClearly this report identifies that a lack of training, WHS information and supervision are perceived as contributing factors to injuries in the Construction industry. Safety Dimensions specialises in transforming workplace culture through training and leadership development and has over 20 years experience in working with leaders and workers in the construction industry.

We can customise programs for your workplace and deliver in house all around Australia, or we offer programs through our public program division Workplace Dimensions for small groups and individuals.

In some states, funding may be available. Click here to read more about funding.

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Report Source:Work Health and Safety Perceptions: Construction Industry’ from Safety Work Australia download the report here.
This report is licensed by Safe Work Australia under a Creative Commons 3.0 Australia Licence.