Understaffing Increases the Risk of On-the-Job Injuries
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have left many businesses severely understaffed. While this presents challenges when it comes to customer service, it also increases the risk of on-the-job injuries for those who show up to work.
If your workplace is understaffed and you have been injured on the job, you have clear legal rights. Under Ohio’s workers’ compensation law, employees can file claims for benefits when they get injured on the job (with a few very limited exceptions). In fact, while the fact that understaffing played a role in your accident is noteworthy, you don’t need to prove the cause of your injury to file a successful claim. If you are an eligible employee and you got injured within the scope of your employment, this is enough to establish your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
5 Ways Understaffing Increases Employees’ Risk of Getting Injured on the Job
The pandemic has forced many businesses to make some very difficult decisions. At the height of the pandemic, and even today in 2023, many businesses have been forced to close simply because they have been unable to find the labor they need.
While this is unfortunate, it is the right decision in most cases. Trying to operate with less than a full staff can put those who show up for work at risk in a variety of ways. For example, some of the main risks associated with understaffing include:
1. Inadequate Management and Supervision
Whether there are no managers or supervisors on duty or these employees need to devote their attention elsewhere, understaffing frequently leads to inadequate management and supervision. If employees don’t receive the guidance and oversight they need, they have a much higher chance of getting injured on the job.
2. Inadequate Safety Protocols
With fewer employees on-site, businesses can also struggle to maintain adequate safety protocols. Additionally, when inadequate staffing leads to a drop in revenue, safety-related expenses are often among the first to go. Safety protocols exist for a reason, and, when companies cut corners, they put their employees in harm’s way.
3. Higher Likelihood of Making Mistakes
When you are working alone or performing tasks that fall outside of your normal job description, you are more likely to make mistakes. Even if you are being as careful as you can, you might still end up doing something that results in an accidental injury. Even if you accidentally injured yourself, you are still eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits under Ohio law.
4. Physical and Mental Fatigue
If you and your coworkers are putting in more hours or doing more with the limited time you have available, this can lead to physical and mental fatigue. Both of these increase the risk of making a mistake that can result in an on-the-job injury. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, fatigue can:
- Impair a person’s ability to concentrate on work-related tasks
- Impair a person’s judgment
- Impair a person’s short-term memory
- Slow down a person’s reaction time
All of these make it more likely that someone who is experiencing fatigue will end up making a costly mistake. This is true in all types of workplaces, from office buildings and hospitals to warehouses and construction sites.
5. Increased Pressure to Work Faster and Do More with Less
Understaffing also increases the risk of on-the-job injuries by putting pressure on employees to work faster and do more with less. Whether your employer tells you that you need to do more or you feel compelled to do everything you can to help keep your employer in business, pressure at work increases the risk of work-related mistakes. Here too, whether your employer puts you under pressure or you put pressure on yourself, you have the right to file for workers’ compensation if you get injured on the job.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured at Work Due to Understaffing
If you’ve been injured at work due to understaffing, what do you need to do in order to collect the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve? Filing for workers’ compensation following an injury due to understaffing is just like filing for workers’ compensation in any other scenario. This means that you should:
- Report Your Injury to Your Employer – You need to report your injury to your employer in order to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Strict deadlines apply, and reporting your injury promptly will help make it as straightforward as possible to obtain the benefits you deserve. If you aren’t sure how to report your injury or are uncomfortable doing so, you can hire a lawyer to help you.
- See a Doctor – You need to seek treatment for your on-the-job injury as soon as possible. Under Ohio’s workers’ compensation law, you have the right to choose your own doctor for your first visit, but after that you will need to select a physician who is certified by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
- Document Your Workers’ Compensation Claim – In addition to filing an injury report, you should take some other steps to document your workers’ compensation claim as well. For example, you should take photos of the location where you got injured (if possible), and you should write down all of the details you can remember.
- Get Advice from a Local Lawyer – Finally, when seeking workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to have an experienced local lawyer on your side. Navigating the workers’ compensation system in Ohio is not easy, and you will want to work with a lawyer who can use his or her experience to guide you through the process.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation About Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Columbus, OH
Were you injured on the job in an understaffed workplace? If so, our lawyers can help you assert your legal rights. We have decades of experience helping injured workers in Ohio successfully file for workers’ compensation benefits. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, call 614-656-3548 or tell us about your claim online now.