On Monday the National Safety Council released survey results showing 33 percent of the 2,000 employees surveyed across the nation believe safety takes a backseat to productivity at their organizations. The percentage was even higher among employees in high-risk industries. Sixty percent of respondents in the construction industry, and 52 percent of those working in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, felt safety was less of a priority than finishing tasks. These findings are particularly alarming because those industries are first and second when it comes to the number of occupational deaths each year.
The survey is based on the Council’s Employer Perception Surveys and is released during National Safety Month, observed each June to raise awareness of the leading causes of preventable death and how Americans can reduce their risks.
“Every employee deserves a safe workplace,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “While some of our findings were encouraging, others were a stark reminder of how far we still have to go to ensure safety is every employer’s highest priority.”
The number of workplace deaths in 2014 was as high as it has been since 2008, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 4,800 workers died from incidents such as car crashes, slips, trips and falls, contact with objects or equipment and exposure to harmful substances.
Gauging Americans’ perceptions toward their safety at work may help provide further insight into the increasing numbers of workplace deaths. Other key survey findings include:
- 49 percent of temporary and contract workers, and 41 percent of employees working in healthcare settings, said they were afraid to report safety issues
- 62 percent of construction workers, and those in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, believe management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe
- 61 percent of employees in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry say there is resistance to working safely among employees
- 70 percent of employees say safety training is part of their orientation and that employee health and well-being is promoted at work
Employers interested in improving their safety culture can join the Journey to Safety Excellence, which provides a roadmap for reducing incidents and saving lives. Visit nsc.org/journey for more information.