OHS Canada Magazine

Lack of time for training is biggest safety roadblock: Threads of Life survey

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May 6, 2024
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety

Shirley Hickman, executive-director of Threads of Life and a member of the OHS Canada Hall of Fame.

The biggest challenge when it comes to improving health and safety is a lack of time for training, according to new research from Threads of Life.

The national workplace State of Safety survey, conducted by Angus Reid, found nearly one-half (49 per cent) identified training as the biggest roadblock. This was consistent across all sizes and sectors, with 55 per cent of the largest companies (500 plus employees) identifying this as a challenge.

“As we mark national Safety and Health week, this survey offers a good news/bad news set of results. The good news is that lots of people reported having good programs in place at their companies,” said Shirley Hickman, executive-director of Threads of Life, a non-profit organization that supports families dealing with workplace injuries and death.

“However, many have challenges finding the time for health and safety training – particularly due to understaffing in today’s employment environment. Medium-sized companies seem to be struggling the most with challenges to health and safety.”

Key findings

Below are the key findings of the State of Safety survey — conducted by Threads of Life from Feb. 26 to March 11, 2024 among a sample of 1,024 business owners, managers and decision-makers who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey was conducted in English and French.

  • Medium-sized businesses also have challenges with confusing health and safety rules and regulations (43%) while more than a third of small and large business agree confusing regulations prevent them improving safety at their workplace
  • 74% of respondents say their company/employer has safety training. This is lowest (70%) among organizations with fewer than 100 employees. Of micro-businesses (2 to 9 employees) only 59% report having safety training in place
  • A third of respondents (34%) agree either strongly or somewhat that health and safety rules are a cost without much payback and nearly a quarter (23%) agree that a certain number of accidents and injuries are the cost of doing business
  • One quarter (24%) of respondents who identified understaffing as a challenge said that understaffing diminishes their company’s ability to avoid accidents and incidents. This was highest among medium (35%) and large-sized (31%) businesses and lowest (20%) in smaller businesses
  • On the positive side, getting buy-in for health and safety does not pose a significant challenge – overall 80% reported that getting senior management buy-in is not a problem, and 70% reported getting employee buy-in is not a problem. Medium-sized businesses were most likely to find employee and senior management buy-in a challenge (42% and 32%)

“We are not safety experts, but because of their own experience with tragedy, our members have an intense personal interest in workplace health and safety. We are deeply committed to preventing future tragedies,” explains Hickman, who lost her own son in an explosion at the arena he worked at in London, Ontario. “At Threads of Life we always believe that one death, one injury, one illness is too many. We all need to do better for the safety of our workers.”


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