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Managers in small businesses more committed to OHS

Monday, 30 January, 2017 - 11:00
Industry news


Immediate supervisors and managers are more committed to workplace safety in small organisations (91 per cent) compared to medium organisations (86 per cent), according to a recent Safe Work Australia research report.

It also found that being very involved in the development of return to work plans was significantly higher among injured workers from small businesses (67 per cent) compared to those from medium sized organisations (53 per cent).

Further, employees and management are generally supportive of each other in small organisations (85 per cent) compared to large (79 per cent) and medium (76 per cent) organisations.

The research report, Comparison of workers compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand, was based on a sample of injured workers who:

  • had at least one day away from work
  • submitted a claim in the two years prior to the interview period
  • had or did not have payment-related activity within 6 months prior to the sample being drawn, and
  • worked in either premium paying (including own businesses) or self-insured organisations

It found that 11 per cent of injured workers in Australia are currently receiving workers’ compensation to replace their lost income and up to a quarter had to take additional paid or unpaid leave.

Across different sizes of premium paying businesses, injured workers of small and medium businesses were generally most positive in terms of their perceived level of autonomy, and the extent to which they felt consulted and appreciated.

The report found that, for 2016, the returned to work rate was 87 per cent, while the current return to work rate was 77 per cent and the new, 3 month stable return to work rate was 58 per cent.

Injured workers in Australia (64 per cent) stated that they had a return to work plan, and of those injured workers with a return to work plan, 52 per cent felt that their views had been fully considered while 78 per cent considered their plan to be helpful or very helpful.

A further 59 per cent of injured workers across Australia stated that their supervisor or someone else from work had contacted them about recovering from their injury or illness.

Injured workers from large premium paying businesses reported the highest levels of agreement to all aspects of employer support canvassed in the survey. Key points to note are:

  • Injured workers of large businesses (85 per cent) were significantly more likely to agree that their employer “treated them fairly during the claims process” in comparison to respondents in small (76 per cent) or medium (75 per cent) businesses.
  • A significantly greater proportion of injured workers employed in large organisations (82 per cent) agreed that their employer “treated them fairly after the claims process” in comparison to small businesses (76 per cent).
  • Injured workers from small and medium businesses (30 per cent and 28 per cent respectively) more commonly reported that their ongoing needs were not at all supported by their employer in comparison to those in large organisations (19 per cent).
  • A significantly smaller proportion of injured workers in New Zealand considered that their employer was supporting them to a great extent (25 per cent) which has also decreased significantly from 2014 (32 per cent).

More than one in ten (14 per cent) injured workers across Australia reported that they felt their employer discouraged them from putting in a workers’ compensation claim.

A significantly smaller proportion of those from large organisations felt discouraged (11 per cent) compared to those from small (19 per cent) or medium organisations (15 per cent).

Injured worker perceptions of the claim submission process in terms of being treated differently, not being believed by people they work with or being fired was up to eight percentage points higher among medium organisations in comparison to small and large organisations. Agreement levels were similar among injured workers in small and large businesses.