If you’ve worked at an understaffed company, you know how difficult and stressful it can be. But did you know that workers at understaffed businesses are more likely to fall victim to workplace injuries and illnesses?
Dangers of Understaffing
Among the many risk factors for workplace injuries, understaffing is perhaps the most often overlooked. Business demands do not decrease when staff is short, so employees must take on extra duties. In an understaffed work environment, workers may feel the need to cut corners or ignore safety guidelines. For example, a retail worker in an understaffed store may lift a heavy box by himself instead of asking for help, or a nurse in an understaffed hospital may ignore a spill in order to check on more patients.
Industries Most at Risk
Workers in health care industries are particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries due to understaffing. Health care jobs already carry plenty of risks for employees, from patient handling to disease exposure to workplace violence. These risks become even more pronounced when businesses such as hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities are understaffed. Employees of understaffed health care facilities are must often rush through patient care, work longer hours, and undertake activities that should be completed with a partner, such as lifting and moving patients.
How to Protect Workers
Employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment, even when they are understaffed. If there are not enough full-time employees to safely cover a workload, businesses can hire part-time or temporary workers to handle simple tasks. If hiring additional help isn’t an option, employers can offer workers more downtime in the form of longer lunches or half days to ensure employees get enough rest and are not putting themselves at risk.