As of late, worker’s fatigue is a serious problem due to high-demand jobs, long work hours, disruption of circadian rhythms, and an increasing debt of sleep which are common on the job. Unfortunately, fatigue has been the blame for a plethora of industrial disasters and catastrophic injuries every day.
According to an annual Sleep Health Index by the National Sleep Foundation, 35% of Americans claim that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities and 20% reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that workers are nearly three times more likely to be involved in a work-related accident when feeling tired.
It is imperative to understand that overall health is highly associated with sleep quality. Approximately 67% of those with less than good sleep quality also report poor or only fair health, with 27% reporting otherwise good health.
The following are the common causes of worker fatigue in the United States:
- Shift work – Companies which operate 24 hours a day need employees throughout the night. The adjustment to third-shift work can be quite difficult. Even workers with experience working at night are more likely to suffer from fatigue compared to daytime workers. Extended shifts, which are common in the healthcare industry, require workers to be on duty for up to 16 hours at a time. These types of shifts can result in serious mistakes at the workplace and injuries.
- Stress – Workers in high-stress jobs, such as law enforcement and emergency medical services, typically have difficulty relaxing enough after work to fall asleep. These types of jobs require attention and focus, which can be severely affected by fatigue. Lack of sleep can increase stress levels.
- Sleep disorders – A large amount of people were told by a physician that they have sleep apnea than previous reports. It may be explained by the obesity epidemic in the nation, since being overweight is a risk factor for sleep apnea. No matter what the cause is, more people have their sleep disrupted each night because they stop breathing temporarily. When a sleep disorder prevents an individual from obtaining quality sleep, his or her work performance can be affected.
Workers must be committed to getting the sleep required to perform their jobs effectively and safely, and employers should encourage optimal sleep habits. However, if someone suffers an injury at work, the cause of the injury should not affect the employee’s ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits.