National Safety Month: The Surprising Ways Fatigue and Impairment Affect Employees On the Job

The economy is surging, and American workers are more productive than ever. In this environment, it’s important employers do everything they can to avoid worker fatigue.

Accidents can be averted when staff members are attentive, focused and completely engaged while on the job. To ensure that employees are working at full capacity and steer clear of fatigue-related accidents, it is crucial for companies to support good sleep hygiene, as insufficient sleep is the top driver of fatigue. When employees aren’t getting enough sleep, it lowers alertness, decreases the ability focus, impairs cognitive function and inhibits motor skills, leading to a much higher risk of workplace accidents.

When employers combat fatigue with high-quality regular sleep, businesses reap the benefits of an engaged, alert workforce, and lower risk of accidents.

The Intoxicating Effects of Fatigue

A study carried out by researchers at Penn State University suggested people who stay awake for longer than 15 hours tend to experience a worsening of mental and physical abilities. In another study, those awake more than 15 hours were found to have an effects on their body similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.04.

Furthermore, the longer the waking period, the greater the negative effect on mental and physical abilities. Because employers do not want staff members to come into work intoxicated and given the results of these studies, it is essential that employers strive to avoid fatigue in their workforce, and the subsequent injuries that can occur.

It’s critical to note employees doing shift work are the most likely to stay awake beyond 15 hours as a result of the fact that late-night and overnight shifts greatly affect circadian rhythms. In addition to negative physical and mental health problems, shift workers are much more susceptible to falling asleep at work.

Fatigue and Accidents

Fatigue-related accidents are a serious issue, as staff members struggling with fatigue are almost three times more prone to be involved in a workplace accident. According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatigue plays a role in a significant amount of workplace accidents each year. Although human error can’t be totally eliminated from the workplace, it can be decreased by minimizing fatigue and supporting good sleep habits.

What to Do

Service and production goals are much harder to reach if employees regularly become sick or injured due to fatigue, and thankfully companies aren’t helpless when it comes to stopping employee fatigue.

Your company ought to ensure employees adequate time to recuperate between shifts. Giving employees some flexibility in picking their shifts can allow them do what works for their particular sleep needs.

Supporting good sleep habits as a part of your company’s culture can help to prevent fatigue. Avoid rewarding employees for working too long and too hard. Provide tips, facts and training on good sleep hygiene.

Let NSC Be Your Partner in Safety!

At NSC, we fully support the safety programs and culture of our clients. If your company is currently in need of a supportive talent acquisition partner, please contact us today.




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