How Does Employee Burnout Threaten Workplace Safety?

Most workers experience on-the-job stress from time to time. When a job is continuously stressful though, it can lead to burnout. Not only can burnout be unhealthy for the employee, but it can lead to workplace safety problems as well.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes employee burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress. It classifies it as an occupational phenomenon. The organization listed the condition in the International Classifications of Diseases (ICD-11) in 2019. Workers experiencing burnout may feel so disconnected from their roles that they stop taking safety measures seriously:

  • Workers experiencing burnout may become disruptive, creating a ripple effect that distracts their coworkers from following expected protocols.
  • Workers experiencing burnout may stop coming to work, which can leave teams understaffed and tempted to cut corners as they work harder with fewer people.
  • Workers with burnout may not take care of themselves, upping their likelihood of suffering from workplace injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries.
  • Workers with burnout who are supposed to train new hires may not follow all training curricula, or they may forget to mention important processes.
  • Workers with burnout may have a lower reaction time, which can be dangerous if they are working with or around heavy machinery.

What Are the Signs of Employee Burnout?

Everyone diagnosed with burnout is likely to exhibit one or more of the following symptoms. It is worth noting that symptoms will vary in intensity from worker to worker. Regardless, symptoms tend to be consistent rather than fleeting. Common signs of employee burnout include:

  • Energy depletion and fatigue: One of the most widespread complaints associated with burnout is a feeling of intense tiredness. The tiredness does not go away with rest or vacation. It may be particularly strong during working hours.
  • Trouble concentrating at work: Employees experiencing burnout may start to feel alienated from their work. They may find work so overwhelming that they avoid it; this response causes lack of focus.
  • Lowered productivity: When burnout is present, a worker’s productivity will usually start to drop. Many workers report that it becomes harder and harder for them to do their tasks as quickly as they did before.
  • Increased agitation: Dealing with many intense pressures and mental concerns can cause some employees to become more aggressive or agitated. They may argue with colleagues or clients or exhibit other negative traits.
  • Increased depression: Workers with burnout are prone to anxiety and depression and may experience these mental conditions more intensely.
  • Increased need to use paid time off (PTO) hours: Those who have burnout frequently need to use up their PTO hours to cope. Unfortunately, people with limited PTO can find themselves depleting their hours early in the year.

Who Is Vulnerable to Employee Burnout?

Burnout is not specific to any industry or career. Anyone can become burned out, including people who work from home. However, people in high-stress occupations may be more likely to experience burnout than people in low-stress workplace environments. For instance, health care workers and those in security fields regularly report employee burnout.

What Should Workers Do if They Feel Burned Out?

Plenty of workers experiencing burnout never get the help they need. Ideally, employees who feel burned out should speak with a primary care provider. Getting a medical diagnosis is the first step.

Workers also may want to speak with their supervisor. Burnout can be exacerbated by unreasonable workplace expectations. Speaking with a higher-up can open the door to setting up a better schedule or negotiating different responsibilities.

Like any occupational issue, employees should not feel intimidated by the idea of taking their concerns to a manager. Employers cannot do anything to help if they are unaware that problems exist.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

A big concern is whether or not burned out employees are eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not released any standards specific to employee burnout, making it even harder to get claims approved.

However, employee burnout can lead to work accidents and injuries. If you have been injured at work, you are eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation, no matter who is at fault. It is advisable to seek legal help from a lawyer if you are experiencing problems with your claim.

Nevertheless, employees need to take burnout seriously and get the help they need and deserve.

New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Will Give You Legal Advice and Protect Your Rights

Employee burnout is a real problem that can lead to workplace accidents and injuries. If you have been injured at work and need help with your claim, speak with one of our experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online to learn more and to schedule a free consultation today. We are located in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, Vineland, New Jersey, and Trevose, Pennsylvania, and we proudly assist clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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