How Workplace Fatigue Causes Injuries

The United States is a nation of hardworking people. According to the National Safety Council, more than 43% of workers do not get enough sleep. Being sleep deprived affects more than just a person’s quality of life. More than 1 out of 10 workplace injuries can be traced back to sleep-deprived employees.

How Does Fatigue Among Workers Cause Injuries?

Fatigue can cause a person to experience problems with memory and concentration, and it can affect their ability to make good decisions. It can also affect a person’s ability to perform physical tasks by impeding motor skills like balance and coordination. Such impairments can result in falls, driving accidents, machinery operation injuries, and other serious accidents.

Industries At Risk

Worker fatigue puts people at risk in many industries. It has been a documented factor in countless fatal workplace accidents. For example, workers in the energy industry must remain alert and vigilant to avoid errors that could lead to serious accidents. After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, investigators found that one of the main causes of the nuclear accident was human error from fatigued laborers who were working 13-hour shifts.

Some more of the most at-risk industries include:

  • Healthcare, where patient care accidents can occur
  • The transportation industry, which is susceptible to vehicular accidents
  • Manufacturing, in which workers must take care to handle machinery properly
  • Construction, in which falls and dropped objects pose some of the most serious hazards

What Causes Workplace Fatigue?

Stressful and physically demanding work are both culprits when it comes to fatigue. Both physical and mental overwork can easily lead to exhaustion. Long work hours can exacerbate such stress.

Employees who work non-traditional hours, such as night shift workers, are especially prone to being fatigued on the job. The human body operates within a circadian rhythm that dictates our sleeping and waking cycle. Non-traditional shift work can interrupt this cycle and cause lack of sleep and insomnia.

How Can Workplace Fatigue Be Avoided?

Fortunately, there are measures that employers and employees can take to diminish the risk of fatigue on the job.

Prioritize Rest

Employees should be educated about the importance of getting 8 hours of sleep per night. They should be encouraged to keep good sleep habits.

Limit Long Hours

Shifts longer than 8 hours should be limited so they don’t interfere with a worker’s ability to maintain a healthy sleep routine. Consider a pay increase for departments that feel the need to work excessive amounts of overtime.

Allow Naps

Shift workers and night workers should be allowed breaks to rest and nap if needed. Napping is an effective countermeasure against fatigue that has been shown to improve employee performance and well-being.

Be prepared with great insurance

Accidents can happen even to the most careful individuals–sleep can be interrupted and work can become stressful and exhausting at times. With excellent business insurance, you can protect your employees and your business from the financial risk of fatigue-related accidents.

SIA Insurance Group is a leading distributor of risk management services and we take pride in our work. Give us a call today at 630-325-4000.

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