Glass and glazing industry sees upsurge in workplace incidents

Date: May 06, 2015

Managing workplace risks needs to become a greater priority in the glass and glazing industry, which has seen a spike in the number of fatalities and injury compensation claims.

WorkCover NSW revealed that two workers died over a three-year period, with a further 431 injured. In light of this, more than $7 million in workers compensation claims has been paid out.

Executive Director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy revealed how many of these incidents led to serious injury.

“There are a number of risks associated with the manufacturing, storage and handling of glass,” Mr Dunphy noted.

“They include the unloading of shipping containers, particularly closed top shipping containers, the loading and unloading of glass sheets from vehicles and the removal of glass sheets from timber packaging.”

A targeted campaign has now been launched in conjunction with the glass and glazing industry to highlight the potential safety hazards that can arise. A safety video has been created alongside a set of posters, which will be used to educate those working within the profession.

WorkCover NSW also suggested that a growing number of companies are buying products from overseas manufacturers, which may lead their employees to undertake tasks they are not wholly familiar with. Unloading shipping containers is just one example of this.

Measuring attitudes towards risk

In December last year, Safe Work Australia released results of a study that considered people’s attitudes towards risk who operate across a range of different industries.

Results showed that half of labourers believe risks are unavoidable within their profession, while 22 per cent admitted to breaking safety rules in order to complete their tasks on time.

Respondents were also asked whether they knowingly breach safety legislation while at work. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of labourers said they would ignore rules to get their work done, as 30 per cent believe that conditions in their workplace prevent them from operating safely.

It is this attitude to risk that the glass and glazing industry may need to address in order to reduce the amount of workplace incidents. Personal disability claims and other types of compensation can cause significant financial and reputational problems for firms of all sizes.

Safe Work Australia discovered that in the most part, employees are more inclined to take risks than their managers. One of the problems faced by glaziers is that labourers were found to be more accepting of risk and rule breaking than many other professions.

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