Workplace safety survey released

In producing the National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance (NHEWS) survey, the ASCC interviewed workers from the construction and manufacturing industries about hazards encountered in the workplace and how their employers were helping to manage the risks.The survey found nearly two-thirds of workers were provided with safety equipment to deal with hazards ranging from sunburn, loud noise and vibrations from equipment.Of the 1583 respondents who worked outside, most reported their employers were providing adequate protection from sunburn. One in five were starting to work outside of the peak UV hours in an attempt to reduce the health hazards associated with direct exposure to sunlight, while 17% of respondents claimed they or their employers did nothing at all to deal with the hazards.Those working with loud noise claimed two thirds were provided with earplugs or ear muffs to combat the noise, but around 17% said they or their employers were doing nothing about the issue.About two thirds of the respondents who worked with tools, vehicles or equipment that vibrated were given gloves to prevent any related health problems. Some 22% reported they or their employers ignored or were ignorant of the health risks, choosing to do nothing to prevent the problem.ASCC chairman Bill Scales said while the results indicated a large number of employers and employees were complying with health standards, a worrying minority still chose to ignore the problems.“I am pleased to report the NHEWS survey shows that most workers in Australia who are exposed to an occupational disease causing hazard are provided with some form of control to reduce risk,” he said.“Although these are positive findings, it is concerning that some workers who are exposed to hazards are reporting that no controls for risks are provided at all.”The survey handbook is available for download at the ASCC website at ascc.gov.au.

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