Baby Boomers to Gen Z: Are we seeing a shift in safety attitude?

Looking at Safe Work Australia’s interactive key WHS Statistics, sadly workers over the age of 45 accounted for almost two thirds of all fatalities. Workers aged under 25 had the lowest fatality rate, closely followed by the 25-34 age group. With an overall decline in workplace fatalities, are we finally seeing a shift in safety attitudes?

Are younger people taking less risks?

The research brief ‘Attitudes towards risk taking and rule breaking in Australian workplaces‘, showed that 10% of workers agreed that they ignore safety rules to get the job done while 15% agreed that conditions at the workplace stop them from working safely.

The research doesn’t show a breakdown of age and gender but it does conclude that approximately one third of employers operating in Transport, Postal & warehousing (TPW) agreed that conditions in the workplace stop workers from following safety rules and workers ignore safety rules ‘to get the job done’.

If we look at this industry closer, this aligns with data that machinery operators and drivers working in the TPW Industry had the highest fatality rate overall in 2022.

Currently there are approximately 683,300 people employed in the TPW sector in Australia. The average age of a worker is 44 years. Employment is projected to grow by 39,900 (or 6.1%) over the five years to November 2026.

Whilst reviewing data from different sources needs to be conducted with caution, we know that the TPW is a growing sector and assuming younger people are joining the sector, why are the fatalities higher for workers over the age 45? Are the younger TPW workers taking less risks in a historically dangerous sector?

Therefore with less fatalities among younger workers, are we starting to see a cultural shift in safety attitudes of young workers vs ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Gen X’ workers or has there been a decline in risk taking in general?

Updated preliminary data for 2024 is now available on the SWA interactive dashboard.

Join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Data Sources:

  1. Safe Work Australia Interactive Data
  2. Safe Work Australia Research Brief Attitudes towards risk taking and rule breaking in Australian workplaces
  3. Labour Market Insights Transport, Postal & Warehousing (Aust Govt)