Reporting update – health and safety

Workforce Health and Safety (WHS) continued to be an ongoing focus for ASX listed companies this reporting season. Since COVID, there has been an overall increase in the number of fatalities and a decrease in performance against standard health and safety metrics such as the total recordable incident frequency rate (TRIFR). This has been especially material for sectors such as mining, oil and gas, industrials, and consumer.

There is also a growing focus on psychosocial safety and risk management following Rio Tinto’s report into workplace culture that was released in 2022, and changes to WHS laws which now require these types of risks to be managed in the workplace.

  • WHS Incidents: A surge in fatalities has been observed, with 23 reported in FY23 across several companies.
  • TRIFR Metrics: Performance against TRIFR metrics has been mixed, and there is no clear link between TRIFR increases and fatalities.
  • Psychosocial Safety: Greater attention is given to psychosocial safety and risk management, influenced by changes in WHS laws and a focus on workplace culture following Rio Tinto’s 2022 report.
  • Investment Considerations: Poor WHS management can lead to fines, worker compensation costs, employee retention and trust issues, and industry reputation risks.
  • Company Response to Incidents: Companies should recognize and take accountability for incidents, consider remuneration impacts, and provide regular updates and action plans to improve safety.
  • Recommended Safety Metrics: Leading indicators like near misses and safety violations should complement lagging metrics like TRIFR and fatalities.

WHS remains a significant ESG issue, with increasing fatalities and a growing focus on psychosocial safety. Companies are urged to prioritise WHS, leading indicators in safety reporting and executive remuneration are needed for better risk analysis, especially in high-risk sectors.

View the full report, which provides a comprehensive analysis, extensive data, and further context on the critical issues surrounding Workforce Health and Safety (WHS) in ASX-listed companies.