NSC Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Say There's No Preventing Accidental Injuries

When it comes to dealing with emergency situations, 61 percent of Americans believe their employer is prepared, 57 percent believe their family is prepared, and 50 percent think their community is. Those are among the findings of a national survey of American workers' attitudes on safety issues released yesterday by the National Safety Council at its annual safety and health Congress in Chicago.

Three out of four workers say their companies are concerned about injury prevention at work, while 39 percent believe their companies are concerned with safety away from work. Six in 10 say employers should be concerned with injury prevention away from work.

"Good employers recognize their responsibility to ensure their workplaces are safe and employees have the training and experience to perform their jobs and perform them safely," said NSC President and CEO Alan C. McMillan. "Increasingly they're recognizing the corporate and human value of ensuring their employees return to work just as safe and healthy as they were when they left."

The progress in occupational safety is reflected in a 17 percent decline in the workplace accidental death rate since 1992, NSC says. However, in 2005 the cost of all employee injuries exceeded $384 billion and nearly two thirds of these costs were for injuries to employees who were off the job.

Injury represents the third largest share of total medical expenditures--following heart disease and cancer--and its share is increasing at a faster rate than any other health condition, NSC notes. For people between the ages of 18 and 64 with private health insurance--including employer-provided health insurance--more is spent on medical care for injuries, including poisoning, than for any other health condition.

Asked what precautions their employers had taken to prepare for an emergency, 46 percent of people surveyed said they had an emergency plan in place, and 35 percent offered employees a first aid/CPR/AED class. In their homes, 34 percent of respondents have an emergency plan and only 25 percent have taken a first aid/CPR/AED class in the last two years, despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation and 75 to 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur in homes.

However, the survey also found nearly one in every three Americans believes nothing can be done to prevent accidental injuries, which NSC says poses a major obstacle to national efforts to reverse escalating injury trends in the nation. These findings come 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 annual high of 116,000 preventable deaths in the next few years if public action isn't taken to reverse the trend.

NSC notes that 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," McMillan said. "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."

The survey of 1,614 randomly selected adults was conducted by InfoSurv Market Research Aug. 7-14, 2007.

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