WH&S Cowboys: The Rise of Negligence in Workplace Management


The past few years have presented many challenges for workplace management teams in terms of health and safety in the workplace. While there’s no denying that mitigating the risk of dangerous viruses in offices isn’t an easy task, many companies have started to become negligent in their approach to health and safety within the workplace. Whether you are a concerned employee or looking for ways to improve your company’s approach to health and safety, these are a few of the most common concerns observed over recent times.

Courtesy: Image by Engin Akyurt

Management and Staff Treatment

A huge concern within many businesses is the way in which management treats staff. A ‘cowboy culture’ has been allowed to dominate many workplaces, resulting in the mistreatment of staff who are concerned for their health and well-being. Management has often been negligent and reckless when waiting for government mandates to enforce the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the workplace. Instead of investing in PPE that they know would be useful for their workplace, a lack of respect and courtesy is shown to the employees within these organisations. Cost-cutting is another huge concern within businesses, especially with the challenges faced during the pandemic. However, this is no excuse for not protecting employees with good health and safety measures.

Courtesy: Image by Engin Akyurt

The Workplace Health & Safety Act 2011 (QLD)

The Workplace Health & Safety Act 2011 (QLD) is one example of a document which strives to guide businesses to eliminate health and safety risks. While it’s not always possible to remove all risks from a workplace, management teams should work to minimise these risks coherently. There have been many incidents reported during recent times of companies allowing team members to enter the workplace with a dangerous virus. This is often due to a lack of support when it comes to medical treatment or allowing team members to self-diagnose their current health concerns (often poorly). When they arrive at the office with a positive result, they can then infect other staff members.

With many companies allowing employees to work from home, this offered one way to reduce the chance of transmission between team members. However, companies such as Apple are now forcing team members back to the office, putting them at higher risk of contracting a variety of illnesses. With new viruses now adding another concern for employees, workers would feel much happier being allowed the flexibility to choose where they work. 

“The jobs held by these workers put them in close contact with other workers and the public, and they are often given inadequate respirators or other personal protective equipment (PPE).”

The Century Foundation

The nursing and food production industries are two in particular which have been hard hit by the pandemic, and employees around the world have suffered as a result of negligence from management teams. While medical teams have certainly been able to share their opinions on the topic, it seems that they too are unable to provide firm guidance for companies. With mixed messaging coming from government agencies around the world, it’s no surprise we’ve seen so many days lost to sickness in the past few years.

Health and safety is something that every business owner should have at the forefront of their mind regardless of whether we are in a pandemic or not. As employees return to offices around the world, we can only hope that operational management will support teams by providing the correct PPE and working flexibility/adjustments to protect themselves moving forward, as well as holding ‘negligent cowboys’ to account.

The health and safety of staff and their dependents matter.

Courtesy: Image by Marcin

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