A recent EPIC-MRA poll of business owners, operators and managers across Michigan shows "lack of time" as the top reason companies are not teaching their employees about workplace safety. This surprising data comes forward at a time when other studies show business owners ranking "health care insurance costs" at the top of lists of what is most difficult for businesses to pay.

"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."

The survey of 700 business owners/operators/managers was conducted April 26 to May 8, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The workplace safety and health education questions were developed by survey sponsor Accident Fund Insurance Company of America as part of an ongoing workplace safety awareness program.

Respondents were asked which of a list of reasons they would cite as "the greatest barriers to teaching your employees about workplace safety":

             The lack of time               25%
             High employee turnover         11%
             Availability of information     7%
             The cost of training            7%
             Other reasons                  11%
             Undecided                      38%

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-quarter of respondents (26 percent), reported any such increase, while the great majority (61 percent), reported "little" or "no" increase at all.

Sarpolus pointed to a study conducted by researchers from Brigham Young University (published in Preventive Medicine, April 2005) that shows health promotion in the workplace to return 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."