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April 27, 2017

NSC: Construction Workers Say Productivity Trumps Safety on Worksites

Employee perceptions of workplace safety April 2017
A National Safety Council survey found 58% of US construction workers feel that safety takes a back seat 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. By comparison, 36% of employees in 144 other industries surveyed feel their employers prioritize productivity over safety.

The Employee Perceptions of Workplace Safety findings were released just ahead of Workers' Memorial Day on April 28 and the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, May 8-12.

A total of 4,836 people died in workplace incidents in 2015, and 937 of those killed were construction workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 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, according to Injury Facts 2017.

"Sadly the results of our survey indicate that many workers still worry about whether they will make it home safely tonight, said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. "We call on all employers to renew their commitment to keep everyone safe, on every job, each and every day."  

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

  • 32% feel management ignores worker 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 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 survey is based on the Council's Employee Perception Surveys.

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