Can you remember the last time you weren’t at least just a little bit tired? According to a study done by the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 40 percent of workers are sleep deprived. To combat the fatigue, we spend a lot of our day finding ways to relieve it: extra cups of coffee, sugary treats, and energy drinks. Fatigued workers can cause harm to themselves and others because of a reduced capacity to perform their work. Fatigue can also lower the immune system, leading to illness, and can result in long-term health effects, such as heart disease.
Depending on the nature of their work, the repercussions of lack of sleep can sometimes carry a higher degree of risk. Workers more likely to experience fatigue are those who:
- undertake shift work (such as nurses or police officers)
- have excessive working hours, more than 50 hours per week
- have significant demands outside the workplace (family or caretaker responsibilities)
- have an illness or injury
The Harvard School of Medicine conducted a survey on this topic. Nearly half of the truck drivers had confessed to “drifting off” while on a long-haul drive. Experts believe that driving while tired is similar to driving under the influence. An individual who has been operating a vehicle for 15 or more hours might have the same errors as a driver with a blood-alcohol level of 0.5 or more.
Brad says, “Fatigue in the trucking industry is especially dangerous. Tiredness and an 80,000-pound vehicle are not a good combination and could cause serious injury or death. Fatigue on the job is also dangerous in the construction industry, where workers are likely operating heavy machinery or working at great heights.”
High-risk workplaces include those where workers:
- operate machinery or equipment
- drive a vehicle, such as a truck or forklift
- undertake complex processes
- handle hazardous materials
Part of an employer’s health and safety obligations is ensuring that workers are able to carry out the inherent requirements of their job. This involves observing, communicating with and properly training workers to ensure they are able to perform their tasks.
“Employers are responsible for preventing and managing fatigue within their company. They will see benefits from higher production rates, less absenteeism, less damage to equipment and fewer accidents. Employers who are careless with scheduling or purposefully overworking their employees can be held responsible if it directly results in someone getting hurt or killed,” Brad says. Employers should keep an eye out for these warning signs of fatigue:
- excessive yawning
- bloodshot eyes
- lack of focus
- slow response times
- poor work performance
- workers dozing off (short sleeps lasting 4–5 seconds)
Outside of work performance, other physical, mental and emotional symptoms can be brought on when employees are overworked and sleep deprived:
- migraines and headaches
- sore or aching muscles
- muscle weakness
- slowed reflexes and responses
- impaired decision-making and judgement
- moodiness or depression
- impaired hand-to-eye coordination
- appetite loss
- reduced immune system function
- blurry vision
- short-term memory problems
- poor concentration
- low motivation
Don’t Lose Another Moment’s Sleep
Creating a bedtime routine can improve both the quantity and quality of sleep. Try these five tips before going to bed:
Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Keep consistent times for going to sleep and waking up to develop a routine. There are apps that can determine when you are in the lightest sleep cycle, the best most ideal time to wake up, and gently wake you so you can start your day more rested.
Limit or Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
While alcohol may seem to relax you, it can actually disrupt the release of melatonin in the brain and worsen sleep apnea. Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps the body alert, therefore it should not be consumed later in the day.
Unplug From Devices
Limit the use of electronics before bed. The light emitted from devices is proven to disrupt your body clock.
Aim for about 30 minutes of physical activity each day. A brisk walk after work can give you time to reflect upon the day, time to catch up with a neighbor, and ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Meditate on a Daily Basis
Meditation can improve focus, mindfulness, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress.
Have you been injured in an accident on the job due to someone else's negligence?
Some of the worst personal injury cases we have seen are due to workers and employees getting tired on the job and severely hurting themselves or others. If you've been injured due to someone else's negligence, contact us online or call our Bedford office at 817-440-3888 to speak with someone about your options to get the compensation you deserve.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.