What can your organization do to make sure workers return home safely at night?

by Brianna Crandall — May 5, 2017 — A  National Safety Council survey found 36% of the 2,000 full-time and part-time employees in the 14 industries surveyed by NSC feel their employers prioritize productivity over safety.

Worse, 58% of Americans working in construction — the industry that sees the most workplace fatalities each year — feel that safety takes a backseat to productivity and completing job tasks. What’s more, 51% say management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe, and 47% say employees are afraid to report safety issues.

The findings came as the nation paused to observe Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28, and just before the start of the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction (May 8-12).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 4,836 people died in workplace incidents in 2015, and 937 of those killed were construction workers. According to Injury Facts, 2017 edition, falls are the second leading cause of death in the workplace, and more than half of fall-related deaths each year occur in the construction industry.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, pointed out:

On Workers’ Memorial Day, we pause[d] to remember those that have been lost in completely preventable incidents. Sadly the results of our survey indicate that many workers still worry about whether they will make it home safely tonight. We call on all employers to renew their commitment to keep everyone safe, on every job, each and every day.

Gauging Americans’ perceptions toward their safety at work may help provide further insight into workplace deaths, says NSC. Other key findings from workers across all industries include:

  • 32% feel management ignores a person’s safety performance when determining promotions.
  • 62% say everyone is involved in solving job safety issues.
  • 63% of employees feel they work in areas or at stations that are set up to be ergonomically correct.
  • 48% of employees believe safety meetings are held less often than they should be.
  • 47% believe performance standards are higher for job tasks than for safety. This percentage is higher among construction industry workers, where 67% feel this way.
  • 33% of employees working in transportation and warehousing do not agree that management has a written policy that expresses their attitude about employee safety.

The National Safety Council offers free resources through the Journey to Safety Excellence for those looking to improve the safety culture in their organizations, and calls on employees to take the pledge to keep one another safe at work.

The survey is based on the Council’s Employee Perception Surveys. Full survey results and methodology are available online.