Michigan Poll: No Time For Workplace Safety Education

Although previous studies show business owners rank health care insurance costs as a top reason why they have lagged in teaching their employees about workplace safety, a new poll indicates that many managers across Michigan consider "lack of time" the biggest hindrance.

In a recent EPIC-MRA survey of 700 business owners, operators and managers, 25 percent of participants said that not having enough time was "the greatest barrier" in educating their workers on staying safe. Eleven percent of participants said that high employee turnover was the biggest barrier and 7 percent of the participants each blamed availability of information and cost of training.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that they were undecided as to what is the biggest barrier in providing workplace safety education.

"Fewer accidents and healthier employees would mean lower insurance costs for Michigan businesses," said Ed Sarpolus, vice president of EPIC-MRA. "If the owners/managers have no focus on workplace safety and preventive health education, they cannot expect to have these healthier employees or fewer accidents."

In another question, survey respondents were asked to what extent their company had increased its focus on educating employees about health and wellness in the past 12 months. Only about one-fourth of respondents (26 percent), reported any such increase, while the majority (61 percent), reported "little" or "no" increase at all.

Strong Connection Between Safety and Attendance

Sarpolus pointed to a study conducted by researchers from Brigham Young University (published in the April 2005 Preventive Medicine) that shows health promotion in the workplace returns a dollar-for-dollar cost-saving of almost 16-to-1 in the area of decreased absenteeism.

"Keeping employees healthy and accident-free means the business is not paying for absent employees," Sarpolus said. "In Michigan's tight economy, our businesses' interests should not be ignoring any way to improve their bottom lines."

Survey sponsor Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, as part of an ongoing workplace safety awareness program, developed the workplace safety and health education questions.

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