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Is understaffing leading to more workplace injuries?

Job openings are more than abundant nowadays, but employers seem strapped to fill those positions as few people apply. Because of this development, employers from hospitals, nursing homes and restaurants to grocery and retail stores and warehouses are understaffed due to the labor shortage.

Companies rely on fewer employees who are asked to do more work with less help from colleagues because there are not as many of them. With staff spread thin, there is the possibility for more errors as employees rush to complete their work, leading to safety concerns. That also may mean more injuries.

Exhausted and fewer workers

An inadequate number of employees may lead to workers making hasty decisions that, ultimately, prove unsafe, causing injuries that were previously avoidable. Rushing to fulfill work orders may lead to a slip and fall or inattentiveness while operating heavy machinery.

Unsafe workplace scenarios may lead to fractures, concussions, traumatic brain injuries and amputations. Fatal injuries are possible.

Here are some other scenarios that may occur when workplaces are understaffed:

  • More work may mean better chances of injuries stemming from overexertion and repetitive stress. An increase in injuries to the tendons, ligaments, neck, lower back, knees and shoulders is possible. So are cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and hernias.
  • Exhausted and injured workers miss shifts, resulting in more pressure placed on the remaining workers who now have a much higher chance for an injury.
  • Fewer staff members also likely mean high turnover rates, leading to employers having to train new workers who may not adapt to the job quickly enough.

Workers should not have to pay the price of an injury due to understaffing. Employers must adjust their expectations when they have fewer workers, but always keep the staff they have safe.

Employers must not shirk responsibility

The safety of its workers must remain the priority of employers. They need an adequate number of staff to get the job done and should not rely on skeleton crews. Granted a labor shortage exists today, but employers must try harder to hire and retain qualified workers. A low number of workers means the potential for more workplace mistakes, additional safety challenges and an increased number of injuries.