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Survey highlights worrying lack of basics

06 February 2017

A nationwide poll and ‘Health and Safety Theory’ test by 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 logistics and transport, food and drink, retail and distribution, automotive, and construction, and found that 59% of logistics and transport workers don’t know the basic health and safety rules of their workplace. In addition to this, five out of ten (55%) don’t fully adhere to health and safety practices, and shockingly, one third (32%) 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. Logistics and transport workers were most confused by some symbols – two thirds (66%) of respondents thought the ‘flammable’ symbol actually meant ‘naked flame’, 53% thought the forklift truck warning sign meant ‘vehicle-only area’, and 51% thought the ‘no unauthorised access’ symbol meant ‘no access without hand protection’.

In addition to this, 66% of logistics and transport 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 (45%) would ask them to move their fingers and toes. Just 42% would call an ambulance.

Perhaps as a result of these visible knowledge gaps, just one in 10 workers (10%) would feel ‘very confident’ that their colleagues would react in the correct way if they were injured at work.

And only one in five (19%) 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

2) Manufacturing 

3) Logistics and transport

4) Food and drink

5) Automotive

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 transport and logistics 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."

The independent poll was taken part by 1,000 people working in manufacturing, health and safety, logistics and transport, building and architecture, food and drink, automotive, and retail and distribution industries.