Unexpected Consequences of the Labor Shortage Safety-Sensitive Industries Need to Know

2021 saw a sharp rise in the number of workers quitting their jobs. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 4 million workers in America will quit their jobs in 2021, the highest in the last decade. Moreover, the exodus is happening in large numbers, and the workers opt for other careers. Some of the most affected industries were those that command skilled, blue-collar workers including the oil and gas, mining, construction, and manufacturing industries.

According to industry experts, the trend is not about to slow down anytime soon. The job departure is mainly voluntary, accounting for roughly 54% of total exit. More than 30% of exiting workers quit their jobs without having another opportunity awaiting. Employers are using incentives such as better remuneration and perks to bridge the labor gap and encourage the workers to hang on. The wage rate across the board has been rising, but the exodus remains high.

The rising exodus of workers has put a strain on the remaining workers who have to work harder, faster, and for longer durations. It’s also resulting in a slowdown in productivity, and increasingly, more disgruntled employees following suit. The average age of a skilled construction worker, tractor-trailer driver, or miner is about 55. They retire every day, but few younger people are ready to replace them.

Why Are People Quitting Their Jobs?

Traditionally, employees quit mainly due to poor compensation. However, according to studies, today’s workers are doing so due to other reasons, including:

  • Feeling burnt or bored due to the monotony of work
  • Growing online space is leading to new business prospects
  • Employees are starting to pay more attention to their livelihood and happiness and not so much about money
  • Changing careers is much easier, and income making opportunities are increasing
  • The high risk of injuries

NB: According to most employees, risks associated with the trade are contributing to the exodus. The mining, gas &oil, large construction, and other related risks have a higher risk rate than other sectors. And while there is compensation to combat the risks, many people prefer safety rather than better pay.

Why Organizations Need to Worry

Despite the increasing labor shortage, many organizations are yet to address the issue. Those who have are employing strategies that aren’t providing real solutions. The following are among the key reasons why companies in the sector should be on high alert:

  • Demand for products and services is continuously rising further, creating more shortages
  • It’s no longer about pay or compensation but about other less traditional reasons
  • The industry is mainly supported by workers in aging populations, with younger people are showing less interest
  • The recent global pandemic made people rethink their lives and many have opted to lead a life with fewer risks

Is there a correlation between labor shortages and increased accidents and injuries?

Studies have shown a correlation between the labor shortage and a rise in injuries and accidents. In the last few years, the number of accidents (reported and unreported) has risen. Data from ISN, a risk management software company, indicates that cases of fatalities and injuries surged from 366 in 2019 to 429 in 2021 per 100,000 workers.

The following are the main reasons contributing to this:

Understaffing has people working faster than normal

The workers may be fewer, but the workload continues to increase. To meet the demand, they have to work faster. However, the need for speed can make them less cautious and result in errors of judgment. For instance, a worker will haul more cargo than usual, which may lead to the items falling on him.

Skill gaps result in incompetence

With the older or more experienced workers quitting, younger and less experienced individuals take over. Sadly, their lack of know-how, pressure from new responsibilities, or trying to keep up with the performance of the previous employee often leads to errors in judgment. The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) states that for every five retirees, there is only one younger worker to feel the gap.

Overtired workers are more prone to injuries and accidents

A worker who previously worked for 8 hours may be required to work for an extra hour or two. Also, a junior employee may be required to take up a more demanding role. The new challenges make the workers more tired and more likely to make errors.

A lapse in protocols and checks undermines safety

With fewer supervisors, it becomes harder to monitor and enforce safety protocols. Like the other employees, a supervisor will be tired and ignore or miss some critical issues. Poor inspections increase the chances of a substandard or risky product passing through. Overwhelming demand and expectations lead to skipping some vital steps.

How Can a Company Mitigate the Risks Caused by the Labor Shortages?

As short-staffed shifts continue to be the norm minimizing risk exposure and injury and optimizing productivity requires a solution that puts the power of prediction to work.  The PRISM Fatigue Management Systems give managers and supervisors a proven tool to identify and mitigate worker fatigue before it progresses to impairment. Its timely notifications of potential for fatigue-risk provide an opportunity to apply countermeasures so workers can remain on the job, safely.

PRISM utilizes artificial intelligence to proactively manage worker fatigue so on-site countermeasures can be applied. It works seamlessly with existing safety protocols and does not require the use of wearables. The system has tracked over 70 million worker hours tracked since its inception. It is ideal for many types of work settings, including safety-sensitive industries such as manufacturing, mining, large-scale construction, oil & gas, transportation & logistics.

What Are the Benefits of PRISM?

–      Real-time Notification of Acute Fatigue and Risk of Fatigue

–      Reduce Total Safety Incidents & Individual Incident Severity

–      Improve Worker Productivity, Morale & Commitment to Safety

NB: The shortages and risks are evident across the board and from top to bottom within organizations. To address the issue isn’t essential to have a comprehensive solution that incorporates everyone.

Final Thoughts

The labor shortage is not about to go away soon. And with companies incurring losses exceeding $136 billion annually due to fatigue and labor shortage-related risks and injuries, it’s critical to adopt a feasible and proven solution. PRISM stands out as the industry leader as an innovative and highly effective way to boost performance and productivity while reducing the risk of injuries, and errors.

At Predictive Safety, we offer the best solutions that utilize research-backed technology. Our goal is to help you more effectively address the labor shortage and counter any likely risk. Reach out to our team of experts today.

 

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