Eye-Opening Risks of Occupational FatigueJune 27, 2018
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine describes fatigue as the body’s response to lack of sleep or prolonged physical or mental hard work. Occupational fatigue is caused by a range of risk factors, including long work hours, lack of sleep, a heavy workload, medical conditions, and other environmental factors. While fatigue can affect workers in any industry, several studies have focused on the effects fatigue has on health care workers, shift workers, and drivers.
According to the Associate Professor of Construction Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, employees who work long hours, many days in a row, and are exposed to harsh environmental conditions like rain, cold, loud noises, or constant vibrations, are at the highest risk of occupational fatigue. When workers are exhausted, they are more likely to have slower reaction times, decreased cognitive ability, and make careless mistakes.
Unfortunately, people who are struggling to make ends meet often work multiple jobs, which leaves little time for the required seven to eight hours of sleep. According to the principal research scientist at the Center for Injury Epidemiology at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, people who work multiple jobs lose 40 minutes of sleep each day compared to individuals who only work one job. In addition to the work-related effects, this can also have a negative impact on workers’ health.
Preventing Fatigue in the Workplace
The National Safety Council (NSC) decided to address the issue of fatigue because of the workplace risks, the health implications, and the long-term economic consequences. They conducted a thorough review of the literature available, which revealed the following key findings:
- According to a 2016 study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 38 percent of workers in the United States receive fewer than seven hours of sleep each night.
- Studies show that workers who have a sleeping disorder are more likely to be involved in a safety-related accident at work.
- A 2010 study by Alertness Solutions estimates that fatigue causes nearly $2,000 in productivity losses per worker each year.
Employers can help workers combat the issue of occupational fatigue by taking proactive steps to understand and promote the importance of sleep. They can try to create brighter workplaces with areas that are conducive to naps. In addition, they can discourage the prolonged use of electronic devices after work. Supervisors should keep the following recommendations in mind when scheduling workers:
- Try to schedule workers during the day, rather than at night.
- Limit consecutive day shifts to no more than six days, and consecutive night shifts to no more than four days.
- Make sure that workers receive a minimum of two consecutive days off.
- Keep consistent schedules.
- Provide frequent brakes.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Workers Injured Due to Fatigue
If you have been injured on the job and you suffer from occupational fatigue, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. You are entitled to a safe work environment, which includes a schedule that allows you to obtain the rest you need to be productive and healthy. We will protect your rights and seek the maximum financial benefits you deserve. To set up a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.