Harvard Business Review Report: Struggling Companies Have More Injuries

Do high-pressure job environments lead to more workplace injuries? A study by Harvard Business Review says yes.

The Research

Their study, which was published in the Journal of Accounting and Economics, observed the injury and illness rates across a variety of companies and industries. They found that companies that barely performed above industry expectations had a higher amount of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. In fact, these companies had an injury rate of up to 15% higher than other companies who were performing at a higher level of success. Simply put — successful, productive companies seem to have fewer injuries, while struggling companies have more.

Why is this? The Harvard Business Review cites two main reasons:

  • Intensive workload
  • Cuts to safety-related expenditure

When a company is struggling, they will want all workers doing all they can to help. This means that people might be doing tasks outside their skill set or comfort zone. In more hazardous industries, like steel work, this can be incredibly dangerous, as workers might not have the skills or safety training for the jobs they are performing.

Secondly, if a company is struggling or failing, they will want to save money. This could mean firing workers, cutting hours, or in the worst case scenario, cutting safety expenditures. As the report shows, this is an incredibly dangerous idea. In many industries, workers rely on safety equipment, from hard hats to harnesses, and cannot safely perform their job without them. The safety of workers should never be risked in order to make a greater profit. Similarly, workers should never be forced to rush their work, because that can lead to mistakes and injuries.

The Role of Workers’ Compensation

Along with company performance, the study found that workers’ compensation also plays a role. Some states have much cheaper workers’ compensation insurance policies, while states like California have very high insurance premiums. In states with more expensive insurance, the study found fewer injuries. When workers’ compensation premiums were lower, there were more injuries. This potentially shows that employers are more careful in preventing workplace injuries when they know the cost of compensating an injured employee will be incredibly high.

The study is somewhat alarming, because it suggests that struggling companies may put profits before people. While profit is important — it is what keeps people in their jobs, after all — safety should always come first.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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