NSC: Pessimistic View of Accident Prevention Poses Hurdle to Reducing Injuries

Oct. 18, 2007
Nearly one in every three Americans believes nothing can be done to prevent accidental injuries, posing a major obstacle to national efforts to reverse escalating injury trends in the United States, according to a national survey of American attitudes on safety issues released Oct. 16 by the National Safety Council at its annual safety and health meeting in Chicago.

This finding comes on the heels of an NSC injury report in June showing that accidental deaths and injuries are climbing and at current rates could hit an all-time high in the next few years if public action isn’t taken to reverse the trend.

Despite this pessimistic view on prevention, 58 percent of Americans believe accidental injuries are a serious public health concern, and 46 percent ranked accidental injuries as the greatest risk to their health and well-being, as opposed to less than 25 percent who ranked violent crime as the greatest risk.

“We’re encouraged that Americans recognize accidental injuries as a major concern in their everyday lives,” said NSC President and CEO Alan C. McMillan. “However, this survey clearly shows that we have our work cut out for us in educating Americans about how to prevent injuries from ever occurring.”

For example, NSC data shows that poisoning – particularly from overdoses of prescription and illicit drugs – is now the fastest-rising cause of accidental death, with major increases among working age adults.

The survey also indicates that the nation is receptive to safety advocacy efforts. A majority of the respondents believe they can act to prevent accidents, and three-quarters (76 percent) say their companies are concerned about injury prevention at work. This focus on occupational safety is reflected in a 17 percent decline in the workplace accidental death rate since 1992.

Emergency Response

Respondents also expressed confidence in their employers’ ability to deal with emergency situations in the workplace. Sixty-one percent of respondents believe their employer is prepared to deal with emergency situations, compared with their family, at 57 percent, and their community, at 50 percent.

“These are positive developments that reinforce the council’s commitment to work with employers to safeguard employees and their families where they are at greatest risk – in their homes and communities,” McMillan said.

Asked what precautions they have taken in their homes to prepare for an emergency, 84 percent of respondents said they have one or more smoke detectors, 63 percent have one or more first aid kits and 46 percent have looked for and corrected hazardous areas or situations around the house.

One disturbing trend is that only 25 percent have taken a first aid/CPR/AED class in the last 2 years despite that fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation and 75 to 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur in homes.

Automobile accidents continue to be the leading cause of accidental deaths, although rates have declined in recent years as the NSC and other organizations have promoted seat belts, safety features and safe driving practices. Respondents to the poll overwhelmingly (89 percent) recognized that talking on a cell phone while driving is a dangerous distraction and 42 percent said they never do it.

When asked which of the following areas poses the greatest risk to their overall health and wellbeing, respondents rated accidental injuries (46 percent) higher than violent crime (25 percent), epidemics (11 percent), natural disasters and a terrorist attack (both 9 percent).

“We know safety works,” said McMillan, a former deputy assistant secretary of OSHA. “The greatest challenge we face is in reaching the public with information about their risks of unintentional injury and death and what they need to do to minimize those risks. We need to take the same energy and focus committed to workplace and transportation safety and apply it to where we now see the greatest need, and that is in our homes and communities.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!