Did you know that workplace injuries tend to increase around the holidays? According to organizations like the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), many employers see an increase in workplace injuries just before or after the holidays.


Why do work injury rates increase during the holidays?

The US Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) performed studies to try and understand this phenomenon better. And, several studies suggest there are a variety of reasons for this. One reason is the number of new employees that are hired for holiday seasonal work. The studies have shown that work injury or injuries are much more common amongst new employees. Interestingly, another reason is that some employers ask workers to increase their workday and work more hours to meet holiday demand. Finally, the holiday season creates a busy and stressful work environment.


Back in 2016, the CDC published an article outlining the various dangers for workplace injuries and diseases for seasonal employees, especially in retail. In that article, the CDC identifies risks for work injury including crowd management, workplace violence, as well as long hours and shiftwork. The article also mentions risks such as prolonged standing, musculoskeletal injuries, and young workers.


Work injury and L&I claims for retail workers

By far, retail sales commands the greatest numbers of employees during the holidays. Explicitly, retailers hired an estimated 650,000 seasonal retail employees in 2018 to supplement the 4.6 million people that already work in retail year-round. Working to meet the demand of holiday shoppers takes a significant toll on workers’ physical and psychological health. Exposure to stressful working conditions decreases retail wellness.


Retail workers exposed to repeated stress at work demonstrate a number of symptoms. The symptoms include headaches, stomach problems, increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and mental fatigue. Those symptoms, in turn, cause difficulty focusing, concentrating and paying attention to detail. As a result, it produces a work environment that is a “perfect storm” for workplace injuries. Furthermore, injuries in environments involving industrial equipment can be severe and even deadly.


Final notes and summary

The CDC and OSHA wrote several guides and publications to help retailers improve the working environment for seasonal employees. Simple processes designed to provide support for employees and reduce workplace stresses have been effective in lowering the number of workplace injuries that happen around the holidays.


If you are an employee in a stressful holiday work environment, please be safe this holiday season. Make sure that you take breaks when needed, that you are getting proper nutrition and hydration, and that you are getting plenty of sleep. When working, do your best to ensure that you are clear minded and focused. Please stay safe out there!