Workplace Safety

From COVID-19, to extreme heat, to air quality from wildfires, Oregonians talk about workplace safety and protections.

agricultural workers in a field

From August 9-17, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ perceptions of workplace safety. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead. It is important to note that the survey was conducted before the Pfizer COVID vaccine received FDA approval and before many of the mask and vaccine mandates were implemented during August 2021.

The online survey consisted of 1,154 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.7% to ±2.9% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%. 

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by the area of the state, gender, age, and education.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire, available for download at the bottom of the page (Q20-22, 29-32).

How Do Oregonians Feel About Their Safety In The Workplace?

Most Oregonians feel that their workplace is doing a good job complying with workplace safety regulations (87%) (Q29).

  • When it comes to their safety in their place of work, one-third of Oregonians feel their safety is jeopardized by extreme heat and by the spread of Covid-19 (33% and 34%, respectively) (Q30-Q31).
    • Younger Oregonians are more concerned about their safety from the spread of Covid-19 and the extreme heat than older Oregonians. About 4 in 10 Oregonians between the ages of 18 and 44 believe that the spread of Covid-19 is jeopardizing their safety compared to about 2 in 10 Oregonians aged 55-64 (39%-40% vs. 19%) (Q30). Regarding extreme heat, 42% of Oregonians aged 18-29 and 34% of Oregonians age 30-44 feel that the extreme heat is jeopardizing their safety at work compared to 20% of Oregonians age 55-64 (Q31).
  • Many Oregonians feel that their safety at work is in jeopardy due to poor air quality from wildfires (41%) (Q32).
    • The youngest Oregonians polled were the most likely to feel poor air quality from wildfires jeopardizes their workplace safety, 53% for Oregonians age 18-29 compared to 32% of 30-44 year-olds and 36% of 55-64 year-olds.

Verification of Vaccination Status

Almost 7 out of 10 (66%) Oregonians believe that businesses should be allowed to require their employees to verify their vaccination status. Oregonians are more divided when it comes to whether businesses should be allowed to require customers to verify their vaccination status, with 55% of Oregonians in favor and 45% opposed (Q20-Q21).

  • While the majority of Oregonians believe in businesses being allowed to require employees to verify their vaccination status, this percentage is even larger for older Oregonians. 82% of Oregonians age 75+, and 73% of Oregonians age 65-74 support businesses being allowed to verify their employees’ vaccination status, compared to 62% of Oregonians age 18-29, and 61% of Oregonians age 30-44. 
  • Oregonians who have at least a 4-year degree are more likely to support businesses being allowed to require employees and customers to verify their vaccination status. 83% of Oregonians with a college degree or above support businesses being allowed to require employees to verify their vaccination status, compared to 52% of Oregonians with a high school education or below and 68% of Oregonians with some college. When looking at whether businesses should be allowed to require customers to verify their vaccination status, 75% of Oregon residents with a 4-year degree are supportive of this belief compared to 39% of Oregonians with high school education. 
  • Oregonians who make more than $100,000 are more likely to support businesses being allowing businesses to verify employee vaccination status than Oregonians who make below $50,000 a year (75% compared to 61%). Support for allowing businesses to verify customer vaccination status trends along the same lines, with 69% of Oregonians who make $100,000 a year and above supporting compared to 55% of Oregonians making $50,000-$100,000 a year and 50% of Oregonians making less than $100,000.
  • Residents of Oregon who are essential workers are less likely to support allowing businesses to verify their employees’ vaccination status than non-essential workers (59% compared to 70%).

Vaccination Requirement in Medical Facilities

7 out of 10 Oregonians (70%) agree that medical facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, should be allowed to require their employees to be vaccinated (Q22).

  • Older Oregonians are more likely to support medical facilities being allowed to require their employees to be vaccinated. 87% of Oregonians age 75+ believe medical facilities should be allowed to require their employees to be vaccinated compared to less than two-thirds of Oregonians aged 44 and younger (63%-65%).

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, and urban and rural Oregonians.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives. 

  • When it comes to workplace safety, in most cases BIPOC Oregonians and Oregonians living in urban areas are more likely to feel like their safety is in jeopardy (Q30-32).
  • BIPOC Oregonians are significantly more likely to feel the spread of Covid-19 puts their workplace safety in jeopardy than white Oregonians (46% compared to 33%), and slightly more likely to express the same concerns about extreme heat (39% vs. 32%) and poor air quality due to wildfires (49% vs. 40%).
  • Oregonians from urban areas are more likely to feel that the spread of Covid-19 and extreme heat jeopardize their safety in the workplaces than Oregonians from other areas (Covid: 44% vs. 24-31%; extreme heat: 42% vs. 22-32%).
  • Oregonians from areas considered rural-changing-to-suburban are more likely than those living in other areas to say their workplace safety is in jeopardy due to poor air quality as a result of wildfires (53% vs. 33-43%). Oregonians living in rural areas are the least likely to feel poor air quality from wildfires jeopardizes their workplace safety (33%).
  • BIPOC Oregonians are less likely than white Oregonians to support allowing businesses to verify the vaccination status of their employees or customers. Interestingly, the gap between BIPOC and white Oregonians who support employee vaccine status verification is wider than the gap between those who support customer verification (BIPOC: 61% vs. white: 67% compared to BIPOC: 52% vs. white: 56%) (Q20-Q21).
  • Oregonians living in urban areas are the most supportive of allowing businesses to verify vaccination status, although more than half of those living in all areas support allowing businesses to verify the vaccination status of their employees (54-73%) (Q20).
  • A majority of Oregonians in most areas of the state also support allowing businesses to verify customer vaccination status, with the exception of those living in rural areas (rural: 46% vs. 51-61%) (Q21).
  • BIPOC Oregonians of color are more likely than white Oregonians to be uncertain whether medical facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, should be allowed to require their employees to be vaccinated (11% vs. 7%), while white Oregonians are more likely to support allowing these requirements (71% compared to 62%) (Q22).
  • Urban and suburban Oregonians are significantly more likely to support allowing medical facilities to require their employees to be vaccinated (74-77%) compared to those living in rural or rural-changing-to-suburban areas (58%-62%), but a majority of those in all areas are supportive (Q22).

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).

For More Information: