OHS reform is a relatively small regulatory concern for Australian small businesses

Many business groups in Australia have been bemoaning the potential increase in OHS compliance paperwork, often on the basis if the impact on small business, applying the logic that the small business sector has the least capacity to cope. Yet a survey of small business attitudes to “red tape” released this week questions the level of concern over OHS.

The June 2012 Sensis Business Index clearly shows that almost one-quarter of Australian small businesses want taxation regulation to be reformed most of all. Only 2% believed that OHS was the regulation needing most reform.

CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, Peter Strong, stated that

“The findings…. provide a framework for many important areas of regulatory reform that will benefit small business…”

As a tool for lobbying government on taxation reform, the survey results are supportive but in relation to OHS reform, OHS is equal to pay rates and planning regulations at 2%.

The media release (not available online) accompanying the survey mentions many areas of concern with red tape – contractor management, energy rebates, fair trading – but OHS does not get a mention. From this survey data it is reasonable to conclude that OHS is not an issue of great concern for small businesses.

However, many of these surveys need to assessed carefully. For instance, the data in the media release identified a 24% concern for Taxation but the survey data report itself lists only a 16% concern as shown in the graph below.

Amazingly, given the current political debate in Australia about the introduction of a carbon tax, the carbon tax data received no attention in the media statement. Indeed, the complete omission of the carbon tax figure is curious and raises questions about the rest of the survey, or at least, Sensis’ media interpretation of its own data.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories absenteeism, business, evidence, law, OHS, politics, research, safety, small business, UncategorizedTags , , , ,

4 thoughts on “OHS reform is a relatively small regulatory concern for Australian small businesses”

  1. Sure Kevin, I agree that this information takes some of the wind out of the red tape sails. What I mean is that this survey and lobbying is about taxation – real money that businesses pay. Not fake bucks that they will never really spend on OHS.

    Taxes and pay, that’s real $$$, and that’s the big numbers here.

    In the absence of real bucks spent on OHS, they’ll have to winge about red-tape, and the figures showing that red tape is a bad thing won’t be coming from this survey!

    1. Grant, I agree that there is some spin on the figures but the Sensis Business Index seems to have some market or policy credibility. Taking out the carbon tax issue, the 2% OHS figures are consistent and undercuts some of the business “outrage” on OHS harmonisation red tape.

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