You only have to look at the regular press releases from the Health and Safety Executive (UK) to see the total disregard that some employers pay to the safety of their workers, and given that the UK has one of the most mature and stringent regulatory frameworks may give an insight into how workers in other parts of the world are treated.
In recent years there has been significant focus on development project relating to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which, has undoubtedly improved the lot of construction workers there, but given that some of the construction companies working in Qatar were some of the most well established operators in the business, why did it take the close scrutiny of the international community to drive improvement?
From our experience some companies rely too heavily on local labour suppliers without completing sufficient due diligence and supplier selection audits. Equally, some fail to apply a common benchmark across all projects no matter the geographical location, believing that a 'flexible' compliance model is acceptable, not realizing the potential risk to reputation that this approach presents.
From a moral perspective, why should a multi-national business place higher regard on the safety of workers in one Country over that of another based on local laws; why do they not simply apply a 'common benchmark' of good practice and sustainable/ethical trading?
A number of businesses have adopted this 'one-world' approach to safety standards, largely as a learning point from past failures, but more has to be done to challenge and change the culture of employers towards the safety of people and the environments in which they operate.
The safety culture of an organisation must be created by those at the very top of the organisational pyramid, not just in publishing a strong Health, Safety and Environmental policy, but in leading by example! Too many CEO's and business leaders fail to practically test their internal controls by walking in the footsteps of their workers; only then will understand the suitability and effectiveness of the culture that they promote.