A new survey from DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) has revealed a distinct focus on safety in the European workplace – with around 90% of organisations claiming to have a well-established set of safety values.
The global consulting firm surveyed 460 professionals – mainly managers and supervisors – across major industrial sectors such as manufacturing, chemicals, energy & utilities, food & beverage, metal & mining, transportation and construction, among others. Countries in focus span Western and Southern Europe.
The goal was to gauge the state of safety in the workplace, at a time of unprecedented health and safety threats. On the whole, DuPont Sustainable Solutions found businesses in Europe to be highly risk-aware – with 75% stating that safety is the top priority, ahead even of production quality or performance.
And this translates into action. Just short of 90% have a safety handbook of sorts, detailing values and practices within their organisation. A healthy 95% are involved in safety activities, driven by the belief that they can prevent serious injury. The upshot is that only around 3% of respondents actually feel unsafe at work.
“These good scores reveal a robust safety culture in general across Europe,” noted Mathieu Leduc, a Paris-based Director at DSS . On the flipside, the survey revealed some shortcomings Europe’s safety landscape, which could take these scores “from good to great” if corrected according to DSS – recently named the world’s top consultancy for health and safety.
Challenges to safety
In fact, less than 75% of respondents are actually happy with the status quo around safety in the workplace. Issues mainly relate to ownership and accountability; inadequate investigation & course correction; and indifference to cultural and psychosocial factors.
Less than half of the respondents claim that frontline management takes responsibility for incident prevention – “extremely low compared to global standards” according to Leduc. When incidents do occur, only around 45% are actually investigated and subjected to corrective action, signalling “a potential lack of operational discipline surrounding safety at work.”
Then there is successful incident prevention, which is rarely celebrated according to more than a third of respondents. Indeed, positive reinforcement is a crucial building block of a safety-first culture. Lastly, less than 10% of organisations address psychosocial risks such as high stress levels, workplace relationships, harassment or even alcohol and drug abuse – all of which can be hazardous in certain situations.
Per the report, Covid-19 and the resultant virtual working paradigm has made psychosocial factors more influential than ever, while also expanding health risks manifold. More attention to employee mental health, combined with better training, more accountability and positive reinforcement could better prepare European organisations for the elevated safety risks of today according to the researchers.