MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Manufacturing Workers Distrust Bosses Due to Health and Safety Concerns

Employees in the manufacturing industry do not trust their bosses to be people before profits.

Nearly half of manual and semi-skilled manufacturing workers in the UK believe their employer is putting profits before people, according to a major new study. The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of global workplace safety company A-SAFE.

Across all sectors, 37% agreed that their employers focus more on making money than keeping people safe, but that was 9 percentage points higher for those in manufacturing. Over one in ten from the sector who took part in the survey also said they feared for their safety every day at work.

2,019 manual and semi-skilled workers from across the UK were questioned for the research. Among them were workers from the manufacturing sector, who had the following responses:

  • 45% believe that profits are put before people in terms of ensuring the right health and safety measures are in place where they work. This is compared to the all-sector average of 37%
  • 39% say the focus on creating COVID-secure environments has led to the neglect of other health and safety measures. Compared to 33% across all sectors
  • 30% do not think their employer is dedicated to keeping them safe and they do not trust them to protect workers. Compared to 24% across all sectors
  • Taken together, this leads to just over one in ten (11%) of those surveyed saying they go to work every day not feeling safe

Attitudes Shifting Towards Health And Safety

COVID-19 has impacted trust in manufacturing bosses.

A-SAFE commissioned the survey as part of a launch of its worldwide campaign to highlight the risks being taken in some factories, warehouses and distribution centres. It also wants to highlight the important safety measures that can be put in place to reduce them.

The research also found a perception that the focus on COVID-security has compromised other measures designed to keep workers safe.

Dr. Karen McDonnell, occupational health and safety policy adviser, head of Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Scotland, comments: “[A-SAFE’s] research highlights that during the pandemic, there has been a shift in attitudes towards health and safety—businesses faced pressure to be COVID-secure and continue to operate. It also shows the worries, fears and anxieties that many of us face in a working environment.

“The insight this research provides will help businesses and government bodies understand the need to follow clear guidelines for businesses in terms of health and safety.”

Time To Highlight Hidden Cost of Health And Safety Failures

Analysis of the official  Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013 data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that, on average, at least 136 workers have received fatal injuries in the workplace each year since 2016 with 70,000 receiving injuries. One in five deaths are due to being struck by a moving vehicle.

It is feared that many non-fatal injuries go unreported by workplaces. Those companies choose not to notify the HSE of accidents and near misses under RIDDOR.

James Smith, co-owner and director of A-SAFE says: “I know that for some manufacturing businesses health and safety becomes a chore with red-tape, ticking boxes and endless bureaucracy. But when there are failures, the results can be catastrophic—lives can be changed and families devastated in an instant. It is time this hidden cost of going to work is highlighted…”