Almost four out of five Australian workers have suffered a mental or physical injury in their workplace, while more than half the workforce is aware of existing hazards that have been ignored by employers.
These are the worrying findings of 26,000 respondents from all sectors of the economy in a survey by the ACTU.
Releasing the research on Monday, ACTU assistant secretary Liam O'Brien said there had been a series of serious workplace injuries and fatalities in the past few years that had received significant public attention.
"When we reported in this way these incidents can appear to be outliers, the tragic consequence of managerial mistakes or negligence," Mr O'Brien says.
"What this survey shows ... a career without workplace injuries is the exception not the norm."
The survey found almost two-thirds of respondents have experienced poor mental health because their employer did not manage hazards in their workplace.
More than three-quarters do not believe penalties are sufficient to force employers to take safety seriously.
"The data collected in this survey shows the desperate need for action to ensure that employers uphold their responsibility to their employers to provide a safe workplace, free from physical and psychological harm," Mr O'Brien said.
"And that when workers are concerned about safety they have immediate support in the resolution of that problem."
He said evidence in the survey reinforced the need to endorse all 34 recommendations of the Boland review of model workplace health and safety laws released earlier this year.
The ACTU calls on federal, state and territory governments to take action over the survey findings and prevent further injuries and deaths in Australian workplaces.
Australian Associated Press