A nationwide poll and ‘Health and Safety Theory’ test by international safety barrier manufacturer, A-SAFE, has revealed a worrying lack of health and safety knowledge in the workplace.
The company polled 1,000 people working in industries including property and construction, logistics and transport, automotive, and manufacturing, and found that 52% of property and construction workers don’t know the basic health and safety rules of their workplace. In addition to this, seven out of ten (72%) don’t fully adhere to health and safety practices, and shockingly, 43% don’t think their workplace has any health and safety rules at all.
The poll, which reveals that retail and distribution workers have the best overall health and safety knowledge, also asked workers to identify the meaning of various health and safety signs and symbols.
Property and construction workers were most confused by the following three symbols – 68% of respondents thought that the ‘flammable’ symbol actually meant ‘naked flame’, 55% thought the prompt to wear a safety harness meant beware of overhead workers, and 51% thought that the ‘no unauthorised access’ symbol actually meant ‘no access without hand protection’.
In addition to this, two thirds (66%) of property and construction workers didn’t know that green signs signal an emergency and, in the event of an employee suffering a back injury at work, almost half (48%) would ask them to move their fingers and toes. Just 53% would call an ambulance.
Perhaps as a result of these visible knowledge gaps, just 7% of workers would feel ‘very confident’ that their colleagues would react in the correct way if they were injured at work.
And only 7% understood that depression and mental health issues in the work place affect one in six employees.
The results revealed significant differences between attitudes and knowledge levels of people in different industries, with retail and distribution workers coming out on top:
1) Retail and distribution
3) Logistics and transport
4) Food and drink
6) Building, architecture and construction
While men and women performed similarly when identifying health and safety symbols, there were noticeable differences in their overall attitudes to workplace safety. Women are more likely to know the rules but “don’t always follow them”. Men also see more value in health and safety rules, with 42% compared to 36% of women acknowledging that “it stops people getting hurt and makes sure everyone is safe.”
James Smith, Co-owner of A-SAFE, said: “Health and safety is a huge priority for any business, regardless of size. Small hazards which are ignored can easily become a major incident resulting in injury, death and significant damage to a business’s reputation and finances.
“We wanted to see how property and construction health and safety knowledge compares to others, and identify key knowledge black spots to help employers ensure health and safety is a priority for all team members.”