Katie Yeutter leads the team that created the Florida Chamber Leadership Cabinet on Safety, Health, and Sustainability, which consists of global leaders who practice in these three areas. The Safety Council focuses on tactical safety training and compliance, the Health Council addresses long-term systemic issues such as mental well-being and preventative health programs, and the Sustainability Council focuses on cleaner air, water, and land. One goal is to make Florida one of the top five states in the nation for well-being.
Yeutter said that despite opioid prescription rates being at an all-time low, unintentional drug overdoses are on a dramatic upswing, many happening in the workplace. In addition, one in five US adults experience mental illness, with depression and anxiety disorders costing the global economy a trillion dollars each year in lost productivity.
“So if we’re going to accomplish being the safest, we can go into organizations, we can teach OSHA, we can teach training…but if we don’t address the long term systemic issues of mental well-being, opioids, and preventative health programs, we can never get to safest,” Yeutter said.
Florida, she said, ranks 49th in the US for access to mental health care, with 1,343 Floridians currently waiting for help. She also cited new Census Bureau household pulse surveys, conducted annually since the COVID pandemic. “If 59% of Floridians are feeling nervous, anxious or on the edge, those are individuals that make up our workforce. They’re coming into our organizations and we’re expecting them to have high productivity, be good members of the team focused on what they’re doing, and most importantly keeping themselves safe and keeping their team members safe at the same time,” she said.
Yeutter told the Club that an estimated 1.4 million Florida adults have a major depressive disorder (MDD) causing them to miss almost seven days more work than other employees. “Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete a physical job task about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time,” she explained. Addressing that workforce gap created by MDD could potentially add the equivalent of 89,000 full-time employees back into the workforce.
Although workplace fatalities continue to decrease in Florida (42nd in the US), the state ranks 32nd for lost time, non-fatal workers’ compensation insurance claims, resulting in an estimated GDP loss of $293 million in 2021. Furthermore, 13% of workers do not return to work after a lost time injury, leading to even higher costs. Florida reported 52,852 non-COVID worker comp claims in 2022, with an average cost per claim higher than the US median.
(You can also view the entire Club meeting on YouTube.)