Workplace safety research shows most small businesses do not know work safety obligations

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“They rules are too complicated.”

“They’ll probably change again next week.”

“I have to sign another one?”

Sound familiar? Chances are if you work in a small business, you or someone you know have probably said something like this about the office safety rules.

New research released on Wednesday suggested that 81 percent of Australian small businesses did not fully understand their workplace safety obligations. The rules were too complex or consumed too much time between paperwork and regular changes for businesses to keep up, the data revealed.

Emplysure, the nation’s  largest workplace relations firm, conducted the workplace safety index in 2017. It found that only half of the small businesses were confident that they met their obligations across all areas of workplace safety.

“Small business owners want to do the right thing, but we hear from them daily that they feel crippled by the complexity of what they are required to do. They are swamped and struggling to keep their head above water,” Employsure managing director Ed Mallett said.

Only one in five small businesses feel confident to implement their workplace safety plan, and only 46 per cent have a clear understanding of how to manage and address bullying. Less than 60 per cent know their responsibilities should an employee get injured, Employsure announced on Wednesday.

“Our research found that small businesses want to improve their workplace safety, particularly around improved documentation, managing bullying, training staff and responding to an injury. They want to do more, but often don’t know how,” Mr Mallett said.

Small business employers did not know where to go to find help with over one third admitting they rely on Google for the answers.

“With about five million Australians employed by small businesses, it’s so important that we get safety right and minimise the complexities and drain that compliance creates to keep workplaces safe. This isn’t just a workplace issue; this is a national issue.”

The Employsure Workplace Safety Index was conducted in August 2017 by Galaxy Research to track Australian small business’ understanding and confidence in planning, managing and implementing their workplace health and safety obligations.