Stress Causes Accidents in the Workplace

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Work related injury
Stress can cause work injuries.

Many people ignore how stress causes accidents in the workplace, which can put them at a high risk for serious injuries. Understanding how workplace stress affects your safety can motivate you to reduce your stress levels while on the job.

How Stress Causes Accidents in the Workplace

Work is one of the biggest causes for stress in people's lives. Feeling overworked, overwhelmed, unappreciated and defeated when it comes to making changes in the workplace can cause your anxiety to rise. When you're feeling stressed, you may have a difficult time:

  • Concentrating and focusing on tasks
  • Following instructions
  • Taking necessary precautions

Factory

Working in a factory or industry setting can put you at an increased risk for serious injuries due to stress. Many times, they result from the stress of feeling as though you need to get the job done as quickly as possible. When you rush, the following could occur:

  • You could drop a heavy object on yourself.
  • You might slip causing a machine part to cut you or injure you.
  • You may forget to turn something off or reenact a safety feature which could injure you or a coworker.

Office

If you work in an office, you are just as susceptible to injury as someone who works with dangerous machinery. Consider the following scenarios:

  • You have a big project due tomorrow that you haven't started. You go into the file cabinet and grab more files than you can carry, which means you have to muster all your strength to lift them. You forget to lift with your legs and you injure your back.
  • You are late for a meeting again but you need to grab a file off a coworker's desk on the other side of the building. You briskly walk -- or run --to that work area, paying no attention to where you are going, and slip on spilled water and break your leg.
  • You are overwhelmed with work and have papers, files and books all over your desk and floor. You have even started placing stacks of books and file boxes outside of your work area for easy accessibility. One day you decided to leave a stack of books in a high traffic area (just for a minute), someone walks by, trips on it and breaks an arm.
  • You're late for a meeting with your boss. You rush to the break room to pour a cup of coffee for you and her, as you rapidly walk to your boss's office, someone walks in front of you, you stumble and spill hot coffee all over the person, burning your coworker.

On-the-Road

When travelling on the road to do your work, you not only put yourself at risk but those around you as well. The following are some ways, job stress can cause accidents on the road:

  • While driving, you look at a spreadsheet on your laptop and talk on your cell phone to your boss. You don't realize the car in front of you has slowed down and you rear-end it.
  • You are in a rush to get to a meeting, run a red light and t-bone a vehicle crossing the intersection.
  • You're thinking about all the deliveries you need to make before 3 p.m. and don't see a car pull out in front of you.
  • You didn't have time for lunch, so you eat in the car on your way to a delivery or meeting, something spills on your lap, you look down and drive into a guard rail.

Be Mindful of Stress and Workplace Safety

No matter what type of work setting, it's important to pay attention to your stress levels so you are able to implement workplace safety. Many times, the reason why stress causes accidents in the workplace is because it causes people become inattentive to their surroundings. Being aware of your stress, and how it affects your work safety can help you avoid accidents and injuries.

Stress Causes Accidents in the Workplace