Survey: Productivity Tops Safety in Construction, Workers Say

June is National Safety Month, and a recent survey from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that 58 percent of American construction workers believe safety is less of a priority at their workplace than productivity and completing job tasks.

Additionally, 51 percent say management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe, and 47 percent say employees are afraid to report safety issues. In manufacturing, 40 percent of U.S. workers believe safety is less of a priority at their workplace than productivity, and 44 percent say management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe. About 40 percent say safety takes a back seat to completing tasks.

In comparison, 36 percent of the 2,000 full-time and part-time employees in the 14 industries surveyed by NSC feel their employers prioritize productivity over safety.

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.

Other key findings from workers across all industries include:

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

Here’s a look at how workers in construction and manufacturing answered some of the survey’s questions:

Survey Statement/Question Construction Manufacturing or Industrial Facility
I can protect myself and coworkers through my actions while on the job. 85% 81%
Safety is a priority at my workplace. 87% 77%
Management insists that employees think about safety when doing their jobs. 88% 80%
Management shows they care about employee safety. 84% 74%
Employee health and wellness is promoted at work. 85% 78%
Safety training is part of every new employee’s orientation. 85% 79%
Employees are well trained in emergency practices, including evacuation. 82% 75%
All employees are involved in solving job safety issues. 80% 68%
Management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe. 51% 44%
Safety takes a back seat to completing job tasks. 58% 40%
Employees are afraid to report safety issues. 56% 43%
Employees are resistant to working safely. 47% 40%

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