How important is sleep and rest? If you ask a random person, the response may surprise you. Increasingly, society and even employers are putting an enormous amount of pressure on workers to be constantly on the go. There is a sense that, if you are not pushing your limits, then you are not fulfilling your potential. This line of thinking is not only tiring, it is extremely dangerous and even contributing to workplace fatigue, which increases the risk of workplace accidents.
This may sound scary, and it is. Even if you are well-rested and ready for the day, your fatigued co-worker could end up causing a serious accident. Keep the following in mind when considering how workplace fatigue affects your safety.
Safety is about more than equipment
Employers usually focus on providing safety equipment, training and a safe work environment. While these are all good things that protect workers, it is simply not enough. Employers rarely — if ever — think to remind their workers to get a good, full night’s sleep. Experts say that being well-rested is just as important as other safety precautions when at work.
Multiple studies show that fatigue contributes to at least 13% of all workplace injuries. The problem could be getting worse, too. A total of 43% of workers in America say that, occasionally, they cannot safely fulfill their job duties because they are too tired. These figures highlight just how dangerous and even costly workplace fatigue is. Fatigue costs companies an estimated $136 billion every year in lost productivity.
Who is most at risk?
Virtually anyone employed in any industry or sector could receive an injury in a fatigue-related accident. However, some workers do face a higher risk. These workers are usually employed in the following industries:
- Public servants, including firefighters and police
Shift work is another significant risk factor for fatigue. If you work an evening, you are 18% more likely to suffer an injury than your co-workers who are on day shifts. That increases to 30% if you work night shifts. Irregular schedules, shifts longer than 12 hours and long commutes also contribute significantly to the problem of fatigue in the workplace.
Can OSHA fix the problem?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made several recommendations for addressing fatigue. Employers should evaluate possible staffing issues, including understaffing and workload. OSHA also recommends giving workers schedules that provide frequent opportunities to take rest breaks and get a good night’s sleep. Sadly, few employers in Massachusetts treat fatigue like the serious health problem that it is.
You understand how important it is to be well-rested, but maybe your employer’s scheduling did not give you the opportunity you needed for sleep. Of maybe it was your co-worker who did not get enough rest. Whatever the cause of your workplace fatigue accident, you need help getting back on your feet. Workers’ compensation may be an appropriate option since these benefits provide compensation for lost wages and medical bills. Demonstrating your need for workers’ comp can be difficult, though, so an experienced attorney may be able to provide knowledgeable guidance through the process.