With fears of lost wages and disappointing fellow employees hanging over their heads, a new survey by the Center for Research and Public Policy revealed more than half of workers in the food industry report going to work sick.

Commissioned by Alchemy Systems, the study polled more than 1,200 workers involved in all stages of the food supply chain. According to the survey, 51 percent of employees reported they always or frequently go to work when sick. More than 45 percent said they go to work sick because they can’t afford to lose pay. More than 46 percent said they didn’t want to let their co-workers down by not showing up for a shift. When managers were asked how many employees they thought came to work sick, the majority answered just 18 percent, according to the survey.

“The vast majority of frontline food workers and their employers are committed to providing safe foods for their customers,” said Jeff Eastman, Alchemy CEO. “The survey shows that over 90 percent of food workers feel responsible for the safety and well-being of their customers. So managers and supervisors need to better communicate why it’s okay to stay home when sick.”

The survey also asked workers about their workplace safety experiences. Some notable findings included:

  • 24 percent of workers reported being injured on the job
  • 17 percent of worker injuries occurred during their first year on the job
  • 93 percent of workers felt confident to stop work if they see a safety or product problem

“While these findings are positive overall, there is always room for improvement,” Eastman said. “For example, while 93 percent of workers feel confident to stop work when they see a safety problem, it still leaves 7 percent of 20 million workers who do not. When it comes to safety, that number needs to be 100 percent.”

The full study can be found here.