Safety reporting among Australian listed companies is inadequate and the level of safety data collection and transparency must improve, according to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).
The ACSI research found less than half the ASX200 reported their lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR), one third reported their total-recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR). Even fewer companies in both indicators included information on contractor safety.
In Australia, there is a requirement to report a fatality to a state regulatory body, however there is no requirement to report it to the market.
The ACSI say that because information on workplace fatalities are usually not publicly accessible, there are ‘significant impediments’ to gaining insight into these tragedies.
“We faced various challenges collecting data on work-related fatalities. For companies that provided no reporting of fatalities, it was unclear whether the company actually experienced zero fatalities or whether it simply did not report them,” the report says.
“We found that there is no requirement to inform the market and found it difficult to find a single source for fatalities to be reported to across Australia that identifies the employer.”
Other concerns raised in the report include inconsistencies in the metrics used across companies and sectors. Commonly used metric fail to distinguish between minor and major safety incidents, meaning the severity of injuries outside of fatalities is generally not known.
“We are concerned that the lack of transparency about workplace fatalities in Australia may mask the extent of workplace tragedies and slow the identification of systemic risks”
“Safety reporting is not just important for investors, who see and feel the financial impacts of delays to projects and lost productivity. It is also a crucial piece of business intelligence that signals that management has robust and timely information to appropriately manage and mitigate its risks in these areas.”
- Almost 70 per cent of recorded fatalities were contractors – suggesting that the safety culture of the company is not always permeating their contracting workforces.
- Safety reporting is commonplace, with more than half the ASX200 reporting some kind of safety metric. Larger companies typically have higher levels of safety reporting and LTIFR was the metric most commonly reported.
- 67 companies provide no safety data to the market, with some of these companies coming from industries with elevated safety risks.
- More mature reporters are reporting leading indicators, however only nine companies are reporting near misses.
- 85 companies link their remuneration scheme to safety performance and eight of these companies do so without providing any supporting safety data or targets.