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Safety Culture: Attitudes Towards Risk Taking and Rule Breaking in the Workplace

What's happening at your workplace?

Life is pretty simple. The more risks you take – the more likely you are to get hurt.

If the culture at your workplace is that it is okay to break the rules sometimes to get the job done, then you can be sure that you run a higher risk of one of your workers being seriously injured.

Safe Work Australia recently completed a study of workplace culture, Attitudes towards risk taking and rule breaking in Australian workplaces and found that Labourers were generally more accepting of risk taking and much more accepting of rule breaking within the workplace in comparison to workers in other occupations.

These findings may help explain the high rates of injury and fatality within the Labourers occupation group. This suggests that urgent action in the area of leadership to improve attitudes to work health and safety may make an important contribution to reducing the incidence of injury and fatality amongst these groups of workers.

These findings strongly suggest that health and safety is not being given priority in all work processes and decisions. Workplace cultures appear to play a role in the acceptance of risk taking and rule breaking. There is a need for workplaces to think about attitudes towards risk taking and rule breaking. Urgent leadership is needed to change what appears to be a culture in many Australian workplaces that it is acceptable to take risks.

How can I improve my Safety Culture?

Leadership comes from the top. There are many clichés such as “walk the talk”, but it's correct. Your staff watch your every move – if you show that it is acceptable to take risks then that is the culture that will predominate.