It is common practice at restaurants, retail shops and many other service-based businesses to keep staffing as low as possible to keep costs low and efficiency output high. While this approach may benefit a company’s bottom line, it can also impact everyone’s safety.
In some cases, there may be regulations establishing a minimum number of staff, which can affect practices at daycare centers and nursing homes. Often, however, it is only the company’s internal policies that dictate how many people will work at any given time. Intentional, chronic understaffing might mean that a business only has a cashier and a manager working or that there is only one person on the overnight shift at a gas station. Workers often feel intense pressure and may not be able to reasonably meet all of their job obligations.
Understaffing can lead to customers getting hurt in slip-and-fall incidents. In situations like the two below, companies may shoulder some liability for the injuries of their visitors in the event that understaffing contributes to the reason(s) why someone gets hurt while visiting a specific location.
1. Workers can’t adequately address cleaning or maintenance needs
When a business doesn’t have enough staff on hand, the few scheduled staff members will often have to focus on basic job responsibilities, like customer service, rather than bigger projects like facility maintenance.
Understaffing might mean that cleaning both inside and outside of a business ends up delayed indefinitely, with potentially serious consequences for visitors and patrons alike. Mopping up a spill might not happen until the shop closes.
2. Rushed workers will inevitably cut corners
Even when there aren’t enough workers on hand to address every maintenance and cleaning issue, several customers complaining about a spill down the dairy aisle will eventually lead to someone addressing it.
However, workers spread too thin may not fully clean up a spill or address the issue that caused the spill, leading to an ongoing risk for anyone walking in that area. They may also fail to put up proper signage to warn customers that the floor could still be wet, which could also lead to the business being responsible when someone falls and gets hurt.
Anytime that negligent cleaning practices and inadequate staff directly lead to someone getting hurt, the affected parties can potentially pursue a claim against the business operating the location where they sustained harm. Pursuing a slip-and-fall injury claim can lead to a compensation award for someone’s injuries and perhaps change how a business handles its staffing moving forward.