Topping a list that included wages, overtime, and sick pay, a resounding 85% of workers polled answered that safety is their primary concern at their workplace in a University of Chicago/Public Welfare Foundation study entitled "Public Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Workplace Safety" published in late August. The study compiled the results of a decade worth of surveys and data. Respondents lamented the American workplace culture that focuses on safety only as a response to tragedy. While the majority of workers in the study claimed they were satisfied with safety conditions at their facility, many responded that stress and exhaustion were factors in preventable workplace accidents.
From the Univ. of Chicago News Release:
“Workplace safety is too often ignored or accidents taken for granted,” said Tom W. Smith, director of NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS). “It is striking that coverage in the media and public opinion polls have virtually ignored the 11 workers killed by the blowout and destruction of the drilling platform.”
Questions instead focused on the environmental impact of the disaster and overlooked worker safety, Smith pointed out. But he noted that “if optimal safety had been maintained, not only would the lives of the 11 workers been saved, but the whole environmental disaster would have been averted.”
Robert Shull, program officer for workers’ rights at the Public Welfare Foundation, said, “Workplace safety should be a constant concern. Given the importance that workers themselves place on this issue, we should not have to mourn the loss of people on the job before government and employers take more effective measures to ensure that employees can go home safely after work.”
Workers, speak up when safety is a concern at your workplace. We can all work to make sure that safety tops everyone's list of priorities.
Submitted by Patrick McQueen