Workplace negligence does not only happen by employers. Employees can also be liable for not following work health and safety laws. During the induction stage, a responsible employer should provide the new worker with the appropriate resources to complete their job safely. The employee is then responsible for following what they learned. The company has a duty of care towards the employee, but the staff member also owes the duty of care to the company and their colleagues as well as themselves. They need to reasonably care for themselves and ensure their actions do not affect others. 

An unhealthy workplace is one where both the managers and the workers are being negligent. Workplace negligence can thrive in a business that is not risk-aware and does not enforce laws, regulations and company policies. 

Examples of workplace negligence by employees

Employees spend a lot of time in the workplace and many of them use machinery on a daily basis. What can count as workplace negligence for them?

  • Not reporting incidents or damage
  • Misusing equipment
  • Mishandling sensitive data
  • Not complying with policies and laws
  • Poor performance

Not reporting incidents or damage

Employees need to report any incidents they witnessed or were involved in. This will allow the business to take action and investigate the incident before it escalates. Near misses, injuries or accidents have to be reported in a timely manner, as failure to do so could be a threat to more employees in the future. 

Staff also have to report damage to equipment or any hazards they have noticed. This is again for safety reasons but also because a minor damage can lead to a greater breakdown of the machinery, which can be expensive. Sometimes fixing something early can prevent future repair or replacement costs. 

Misusing equipment

Workplace negligence can be prevented if employees use equipment correctly. They need to apply the training they received and not misuse machinery or skip safety checks. If necessary, they need to wear protective gear before they work on their tasks to avoid harm and protect themselves. Examples of protective gear include:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses or goggles 
  • Overalls and certain types of boots
  • Earpieces
  • Protective masks and respirators
  • Helmets

If employees fail to wear those, then this can classify as workplace negligence. The employer provides staff with the necessary safety precautions and they ignore the safety protocols in place. 

Mishandling sensitive data

Protecting employee and customer data is necessary, especially as the risk of fraud has increased in the last few years. If employees do not follow the training they have been given when collecting, storing and sharing sensitive information, then they can be found to be negligent. 

In 2019, 20% of data breaches occurred due to employee negligence. These could have been prevented if employees followed their training and had been more risk aware. Cybercriminals rely on employees being unprepared and not expecting to be tricked. For example, if their manager sends them an email asking for files or sensitive information, they might think that this is normal behaviour from them. Skipping encryption, not checking the email address or giving away passwords using unsafe means are examples of workplace negligence.

Not complying with policies and laws

In some instances, employees may choose not to follow laws and workplace rules due to convenience or forgetfulness. Non-compliance can lead to great costs for the business. It only takes one employee to break the law for the whole company to suffer. 

There should be zero tolerance for non-compliance. Otherwise, misconduct, such as fraud, theft and harassment, can grow and make the company a miserable place to be. 

Poor performance

Workplace negligence can also occur through performance that does meet expectations. Negligence is defined as the failure to provide reasonable care to workplace tasks. A skillful employee who fails to provide adequate customer service and perform their tasks with the expertise expected from them is negligent. 

This negligence can cost the business a lot of money, especially if customers receive bad service that will then spread through word of mouth. Not responding to problems, concerns or customers appropriately and truthfully can lead to a lack of trust and lower loyalty among clients. 

Employer examples of workplace negligence

Employers have similar duties to the employees when it comes to handling data, complying with laws and regulations, reporting incidents and accidents and using equipment correctly. However, they have a few responsibilities beyond that. Negligent behaviour by employers can be seen through:

  • Lack of employee training: Not providing employees with adequate training needed for their role and responsibilities.
  • Underdestimating safety risks: Not warning employees of the risks a task can carry or not maintaining machinery and other equipment. 
  • Ignoring employee complaints: This includes ignoring incident reports, complaints about safety and concerns about damage to machinery. 
  • Encouraging unhealthy working conditions: Allowing employees to work excessive overtime hours can have negative impacts both for employees and workplace operations. 

There are more ways that workplace negligence can occur. But these are the common ones and they can have a detrimental impact on the business. 

Consequences of workplace negligence

The consequences of workplace negligence depend on its type. The main ones are:

  • High employee turnover
  • Legal issues
  • Loss of productivity 
  • Workplace accidents
  • Reduced revenue
  • Ruined reputation 

High employee turnover

High employee turnover can occur for a number of reasons. Employees may get frustrated with the lack of training, they might struggle to do their tasks correctly and safely which will lower their morale. Employees that do not enjoy their jobs are more likely to leave and seek employment elsewhere. Staff will not stay loyal to a company that refuses to care for their safety and provide them with the right skills.

The employees who are more likely to stay in this situation are those who are being negligent. This is because they can do what they want without repercussions or without being caught. Businesses should avoid this scenario as those individuals are not working for the company’s best interests. 

Legal issues 

Workplace negligence, whether the fault of the employee or the employer, can have a lot of legal issues for the company. A more recent example of this is the Arby’s case, where an employee was found dead in a freezer. Employees are now alleging that this was done due to employer negligence and their ignoring their complaints for months. 

This and other cases can cause the company to have high costs to pay due to settlements, lawsuits, court fees and investigation expenses. As workplace negligence means non compliance with laws and regulations, the business may also attract the attention of the government. This might mean that they will be closely monitored in the future, with potential government bodies requiring audits to be performed. 

Loss of productivity 

Incidents and accidents can cause disruptions in workplace operations. When an employee is injured, whether that is mentally or physically, they might not be able to perform their work duties for an amount of time. They might need to take some time off and use their sick days, which will affect productivity. The rest of the employees might need to work extra hours to make up for their colleague’s absenteeism, as injuries usually require long absences. This means that more employees are at risk for burnout, generating a lower quality product or service. 

Ruined reputation 

Workplace negligence can become public through media or word of mouth. It will be another contributor to lower profits for the business, as a bad reputation means worse revenue and lower sales. If customers see that company stakeholders are being negligent, then they will doubt the authenticity of the organisation and the quality of the product or service they are receiving. They might be hesitant to deal with the company as they are afraid that the business will be negligent when handling their data. 

This is because negligence is usually due to personal interests. For employees, it might be to save time and for the business, it may be to save money. Customers will then view the organisation as a profit-hungry entity that does not prioritise customer experience or product quality. 

Reduced profit

Due to the all of the above consequences,, the business will suffer from reduced profits until the issue is resolved. Compensation, hiring new employees to make up for employee absences, extra training fees, along with the investigation expenses mentioned above all contribute to low profits. 

Please remember

Workplace negligence will only grow if consequences do not follow. Any type of negligent behaviour should be discouraged early to avoid further trouble, costs and damage to the company’s reputation. In some cases, an investigation may be needed to understand the extent of the problem. 

This is where our customers trust Polonious to step in and help the investigation team. We provide investigators with an efficient system that can help them achieve faster turnaround times and lower investigation costs. Investigators can gather and store evidence easily through our system. We assist the team with online interviews, different software integration and workflow automation. If you are looking for a confidential and result-driven case management system, reach out!