How Can Being Understaffed Affect Your Workplace’s Safety?


Running an efficient business is key to maintaining a profitable enterprise. However, these attempts can go too far. An understaffed facility can lead to safety concerns, endangering employees and ultimately undermining your goal to save money.

We understand the dilemma. Your goal is to keep costs down. That’s just good business. As a result, you don’t hire unless you have to while maintaining as lean a workforce as possible.

However, there’s a thin line between lean and understaffed. Cutting employee headcount too much can become dangerous. You open the door to potential injuries and costly consequences. Here are some of the ways being understaffed undermines the safety at your facility:

Monitoring and Controls Suffer

Your workers provide the front line of safety defense. They spend their days in the thick of the production activities, giving them direct knowledge of the state of your workplace. If a machine is getting dangerously old or a safety feature has stopped working, your employees are your best bet to correct the problem quickly.

Fewer workers mean fewer people looking out for these early warning signs. Also, the workers you have are busy “making more with less.” They are concerned with keeping up with production. It cuts into your ability to identify and respond to risks before they become a problem.

Increased Injury Risk

Tired and rushed workers make more mistakes. In situations where the headcount doesn’t fit the workload, your team will be forced to stretch themselves to keep up.

As a result, employees will work faster than they should and tire more easily. The result could be a higher risk of accident and, by extension, a greater chance of injury.

More Stress

Even if your workers can avoid a physical injury, the added strain will still take its toll. The increased pressure that comes from an understaffed environment can lead to increased stress.

Your workers will be forced to maintain production levels, despite the lack of sufficient help. It provides a mental strain that builds up over time. This, in turn, can contribute to burnout and a decline in morale.

As a result, you might start seeing more sick days, lower productivity, and an uptick in turnover.

Repetitive Injury

The psychological impact isn’t the only insidious long-term consequence of an understaffed workforce. The additional work will take a physical toll as well.

Separate from the added risk of a sudden injury-causing accident, the increased workload could increase the incidence of longer-term physical problems. It could wear down your employees’ bodies, causing repetitive-stress injuries.

Less Training Opportunities

Ongoing training is key to keeping up with safety protocols as they change over time. Meanwhile, these sessions provide useful reminders of day-to-day regulations.

Unfortunately, an understaffed workforce is difficult to train. You don’t have enough overlap to pull people out of regular production to participate in education sessions. At the same time, the too-quick pace of work means most employees are more prone to forget or to ignore important safety procedures.

Safety should represent a central goal of any business. Maintaining proper employee levels makes it easier to keep up a high safety profile. It also helps to have the right employees. A top-flight staffing partner, like DHR, can bring you the conscientious and efficient workers you need to make your facility safe and efficient.

Contact DHR today to find out more.

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