Many Construction Workers Say Bosses Favor Productivity Over Safety

A new survey from the National Safety Council shows that 60 percent of respondents in the construction industry believe safety takes a backseat to productivity in their companies. In manufacturing, 33 percent of the 2,000 employees surveyed nationwide believe that as well, which matches the U.S. average across all industries.

The survey also shows that 61 percent of construction workers are afraid to report injures, vs. 29 percent of manufacturing employees.

However, while the manufacturing industry produced more positive results in these two key categories, other indicators show the construction industry places a strong emphasis on safety compared with manufacturing and many other sectors.

Eighty-eight percent of construction respondents say all employees are involved in solving job safety issues and that employee health and wellness is promoted at work.

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,” says 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.”

Here are the full “workplace statement” survey question results for the construction and manufacturing industries (percentage represents percentage of respondents that agreed with the survey statement/question):

Survey Statement/Question Construction Manufacturing or Industrial Facility
I can protect myself and coworkers through my actions while on the job. 84% 85%
Safety is a priority at my workplace. 87% 78%
Management insists that employees think about safety when doing their jobs. 80% 78%
Management shows they care about employee safety. 82% 74%
Employee health and wellness is promoted at work. 88% 73%
Safety training is part of every new employee’s orientation. 88% 76%
Employees are well trained in emergency practices, including evacuation. 83% 70%
All employees are involved in solving job safety issues. 88% 67%
Management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe. 62% 35%
Safety takes a back seat to completing job tasks. 60% 36%
Employees are afraid to report safety issues. 61% 34%
Employees are resistant to working safely. 55% 35%

Other key survey findings across all industries show that 49 percent of temporary and contract workers are afraid to report safety issues. On a positive note, 70 percent of employees say safety training is part of their orientation and that employee health and well-being is promoted at work.

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 contact with objects or equipment, transportation accidents, exposure to harmful substances, and slips, trips and falls.

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