One-fifth of transport industry employers say they break safety rules to complete work on time, according to a survey by Safe Work Australia.

This compares with an average of 6% in other monitored industries.

Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter says it is a concern that acceptance of risk-taking and rule-breaking is much higher in transport.

“This report identifies some… important factors that need to be addressed if we are to reduce the current high levels of injuries and fatalities in the transport industry, as well as improving health and safety more generally,” she said.

About 20% of transport industry employers consider minor accidents a normal part of work, compared with 10% or less in other industries.

About 21% of transport industry employers say workers bend the rules to achieve targets, and 31% say staff ignore safety rules to get jobs done.

This compares with about 5-6% of employers in other industries.

About 1000 businesses have taken part in the research since the start of the century.

The top three causes of work-related injuries nominated by transport employers are risk-taking, unsafe work practices or procedures, and manual tasks. The first two causes are nominated by “substantially more” transport industry employers than those in other industries.

Transport has been designated a priority industry under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22, due to its high number and rate of work-related injuries and illnesses.

It performs more poorly than other industries in a range of areas, the Safe Work Australia report says.

“Many employers in the transport industry appear to acknowledge that unsafe work practices and risk-taking are leading to the high levels of injuries and fatalities in the industry.

“This suggests the design of work in the transport industry needs examination to understand why unsafe work practices persist and how they can be reduced.”

Safe Work Australia’s research shows sprains and strains are the most frequent injuries for workers in the transport sector (42.9%), followed by chronic joint or muscle conditions (25.8%). Comparable rates for workers in other industries are 28% and 16% respectively.

Transport workers are more likely to report exposure to airborne hazards such as gasses and fumes, sun and vibration.