Cost cuts put staff in danger
Kirsty Needham Workplace Reporter
smh, July 17, 2009
EMPLOYERS who cut corners to cut costs are compromising workplace safety, WorkCover NSW has warned.
A bulletin issued to NSW businesses urges them to "keep the workload realistic" for staff, and says company restructures and cost cutting are causing anxiety and leading to more mistakes.
The warning coincides with the release of WorkCover data showing an increase in workplace injuries and occupational disease in NSW in 2007-08, reversing the trend of improved safety.
"People say safety is the first thing to go … it is a very real issue that needs to be considered upfront as businesses take action to save money by doing things a bit quickly," said John Watson, WorkCover NSW's general manager of occupational health and safety.
WorkCover has told employers that unsafe workplaces cost more in the long run if they lead to higher compensation payouts or falling morale.
Workplace fatalities in NSW fell in 2007-08, but the number of injuries, weeks lost due to injury and level of compensation payouts rose. Total injuries rose by 2339 (2 per cent) to 142,542.
Major workplace injuries, involving a week or more off work, rose by 3 per cent to 30,077.
An error-reduction specialist said more mistakes are made as companies shed staff.
"People taking on more work increases the cognitive load. People being stressed by financial pressures decreases cognitive capacity. So we have a double whammy effect," said Filomena Sousa, chief executive of Talsico International.