An ongoing labor shortage is affecting employers and employees across California and the nation. Research suggests a link between the labor shortage and a worker’s chance of suffering a serious on-the-job injury or fatality. American employers have made some progress in terms of reducing the number of minor injuries their workers experience. However, they have not made similar strides when it comes to more serious work-related injuries and fatalities.
Per Risk & Insurance, the nationwide labor shortage may continue for the foreseeable future. This means enhanced injury risks for members of the U.S. workforce.
Serious work injury statistics
In 2019, there were 366 serious injuries or fatalities for every 100,000 American workers employed full-time. The following year, this figure rose to 429 serious injuries or fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers. Researchers expect this number to continue to rise while the labor shortage continues. There are several reasons why labor shortages raise serious injury and fatality rates.
Serious work injury causes
When there is a labor shortage, it often forces employers to hire professionals who do not have as much experience or as many qualifications. Some employers also start relying more on outside contractors. When a worker has less experience, and particularly in a dangerous position, that worker’s chance of suffering an on-the-job injury or death rises. From 2018 until 2020, the top cause of serious injuries or fatalities was workers coming in contact with equipment.
Research also suggests a link between companies with high worker injury rates and employers and companies not committing to practices that help prevent worker injuries and protect today’s workforce.