Risk & Business Magazine JGS Insurance Summer 2022 | Page 4


Safety & The New Normal


According to a recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management , nearly 90 % of businesses are having difficulty filling open positions . Reasons vary ; however , there are many workers reevaluating their employment priorities and others that are concerned about their health due to unpredictable COVID exposures . These concerns are especially prevalent among those who have careers that require them to work in close contact with others or within enclosed spaces .

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the manufacturing sector is currently posting over 800,000 job openings . To address this shortfall , some employers have reduced their job requirements relating to criminal history , legal marijuana usage , and previous work experience in order to expand their
candidate reach . In addition , some employers have increased workers ’ hours .
The American Trucking Associations reports a driver shortage of more than 80,000 positions . This is largely driven by an aging workforce , declining interest in the profession , and strict regulatory requirements . To make up for the shortfall , employers are extending existing employees ’ driving schedules and lowering their driver applicant standards .
However , these approaches have consequences . Industry data shows that manufacturing employees with less than a year of job experience contribute to over 35 % of workplace accidents .
An understaffed workplace means the remaining employees may need to pick up extra shifts , work longer hours , and end their days in exhaustion . A recent survey found that 60 % of manufacturing workers have reported added stress and muscular pain or discomfort due to being overworked .
Hiring untrained employees or temporary workers and extending overtime to keep production moving can lead to an increase in workers ’ compensation claims .
Exhausted and underqualified workers can increase the risk of employees cutting safety corners or making careless errors during their daily tasks , potentially resulting in workplace accidents . These accidents could harm or injure both employees and customers . Overworked and inexperienced employees may also be more likely to miss important project deadlines and cause service delays , contributing to disgruntled customers . Additionally , staff shortages can make it more difficult for employers to maintain adequate workplace security , making them more vulnerable to property and inventory losses .
To recruit and retain employees , businesses can offer incentives . Many companies are increasing wages , providing additional benefits , offering bonuses for a job well done , offering free COVID vaccinations , and adjusting schedules to adapt to employee needs .
There are more measures an employer can take that require little investment and will provide lasting returns not only in profitability but in goodwill :
While an effective onboarding process is always a plus , this is especially true if labor shortages require employers to hire inexperienced workers . Employers must equip new employees with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed in their roles . This involves onboarding that emphasizes the physical requirements of the job , hazard recognition , and providing related safety training .
Employers should have all workers , regardless of experience , participate in regular , job-specific safety training . Training promotes your safety culture and mitigates the risk of workplace accidents .
It ’ s vital for employers to engage with their workers on a frequent basis . Keeping regular communication open will motivate employees to share any safety concerns and other work-related issues . Perform daily safety inspections that include identifying unsafe conditions and promoting safe working behaviors such as wearing appropriate PPE . By being proactive , employers can remedy problems before they cause an incident .
Regardless of when the pandemic subsides , many economists anticipate labor shortages to continue throughout 2022 and beyond . New demands are placed on employers as workers have permanently altered their job expectations and workplace priorities . Employers who adapt to the new normal by implementing workplace programs that enhance the safety and well-being of their workers will earn an edge in successfully hiring that elusive employee . +
Eric P . Wokas has over 25 years of experience as a risk management consultant working for various major property / casualty insurance carriers including Continental , Zurich and Gerling as well as Aon an international insurance brokerage firm . At JGS Insurance Eric Wokas continues to assist clients in development and implementation of practical solutions in reducing risk .