This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks the 30th day of the partial government shutdown. For the last month, upwards of 800,000 federal government employees and contractors have either been without a job or been forced to work without pay.
The situation is financially devastating for many Americans. But in addition to the overwhelming anxiety connected to past-due mortgage payments and mounting credit card bills, federal workers affected by the shutdown also face a higher risk of personal injury. Here’s why:
Financial insecurity is an all-consuming problem. It follows you wherever you go, in all of your daily activities. If you go to work with financial concerns, you’ll be more distracted on the job—and more likely to make a mistake—which could lead to a workplace injury.
A Wisconsin professor recently conducted a study of over 1,000 truck drivers. He found that truck drivers who come to work with financial preoccupations have a significantly higher probability of being involved in a trucking accident at work.
The same logic can be carried to financially strained employees outside of the workplace. A furloughed employee driving to the grocery store, worried about whether they have enough money to feed their family, will naturally be more distracted behind the wheel. This compromises the safety of everyone on the road—and could lead to more accidents.
In addition, it’s worth remembering that many of the federal employees being forced to work for free are in charge of protecting American lives. When such employees make a mistake on the job, the consequences could have profound implications on the entire country. Therefore, sending such critical personnel to work, unsure of how they’ll survive, makes us all less safe.