Briefly outline the legal responsibilities that employers have to ensure a safe workplace……. Define the term ‘safety culture’ (drawing on appropriate academic literature)

Group Report Topic

You have been hired as a team of consultants to provide some theoretically sound and practical advice to the Chief Executive Officer of Sopranos Smallgoods.  Founded in 1920, the Soprano family of farmers and butchers had a dream to provide the Australian public with the finest quality meat, cured using traditional Italian recipes.  In 2015, the Sopranos are a major supplier of smallgoods to the Australian market. The product range spans across traditional Italian salami, ham, bacon and traditional smallgoods.  The company has state-of-the-art facilities located in Bundoora, Victoria and employ over 250 workers.   The company has a very flat organisational structure – the CEO reports to a Board of Directors (made up of members of the Soprano family).  Each department has a manager, with the production department having supervisors who directly manage the production line worker.

In a recent independent health and safety investigation, the auditor found ‘multiple instances of lax safety practices by front line workers’ and ‘a poor attitude towards safety amongst front line staff, supervisors and middle management’.   However, the auditor commended senior management on their general commitment to the safety of workers, but found ‘this has not translated into safe working practices on the factory floor’.   The auditor cited several examples of dangerous practices he witnessed on the production line, including workers reaching into mincers to remove blockages whilst the mincer was operating; poor manual handling practices; workers not wearing their personal protective equipment; dangerous use of forklifts; equipment such as knives not being put away properly; and safety barriers on machines being removed to speed up the production process.  In his recommendations, the auditor suggested that Soprano Smallgoods ‘work towards developing a culture of safety within the organisation’.

Vincenzo Soprano, the CEO, is concerned about his worker’s safety.  In a private meeting, he lamented ‘its just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or dies on the factory floor.  What can I do?  We have good procedures.  We have spent a lot of money on making sure the factory is safe.  But, I can’t make the supervisors and employees follow our safety procedures…..I can’t watch them all the time’.

Vincenzo has hired you to come up with five recommendations as to how he can create a ‘safety culture’ within Sopranos Smallgoods. He has asked for a comprehensive Report that he can give to the Board of Directors.  The Report should:

  • Briefly outline the legal responsibilities that employers have to ensure a safe workplace
  • Define the term ‘safety culture’ (drawing on appropriate academic literature)
  • Explain how a safety culture can improve safety behaviours of employees (drawing on appropriate academic literature)
  • Identify five recommendations that Sopranos should implement to improve the safety culture within the organisation.  These recommendations may incorporate multiple HRM functions, including performance management, rewards, training and development, recruitment and job design.  For each recommendation, a clear explanation about how this will lead to improved safety behaviours should be provided.
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