More than eight of ten workers – 85% – rate workplace safety first in importance among labor standards, even ahead of family and maternity leave, minimum wage, paid sick days, overtime pay and the right to join a union, according to a new study from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The study, “Public Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Workplace Safety,” draws on dozens of surveys and polls conducted from 2001 to 2010 by NORC. This study sought to gain a picture of Americans’ experiences with workplace safety issues. It was done for the Public Welfare Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., which includes a workers’ rights program.
Despite widespread public concern about workplace safety, the study also found that the media and the public tend to pay closest attention to safety issues when disastrous workplace accidents occur. Even during those tragedies, the fate of workers is often overlooked. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Tom W. Smith, director of NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS), observed:
Workplace safety is too often ignored or accidents taken for granted. 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.
Director Smith pointed out that questions instead focused on the environmental impact of the disaster and largely overlooked worker safety. 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, had this to say:
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.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported on August 19th, in a preliminary count, that the number of workers who died on the job in 2009 fell 17% from the previous year, as workers clocked in for fewer hours because of the recession. Despite a decrease in workplace fatalities, the study found that reports of workplace injuries remained high.
The study done for the Public Welfare Foundation found that about 12% of workers reported an on-the-job injury during the past year. Thirty-seven percent said they have required medical treatment at one time for a workplace injury. While unsafe working conditions wind up costing the public, the workers and their families pay the highest price. The Public Welfare Foundation is a national foundation that supports workers’ rights, health reform and criminal and juvenile justice. The General Social Survey is supported with grants from the National Science Foundation.
Source: Claims Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.