Fatigue in the Workplace

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Many workers in the USA awoke Sunday morning having lost 1 hour of sleep. The National Safety Council is cautioning employers that workers who already have a higher risk of being drowsy may be even more tired than usual due to the time change.

According to NSC’s new report, Tired at Work: How fatigue affects our bodies, certain workers always have an increased risk for circadian misalignment, which occurs when we force ourselves to stay awake at hours when our bodies believe we should ordinarily be asleep.

The workers in this group – shift workers, medical staff, emergency responders, military personnel, any worker over the age of 40, and transportation professionals – are especially at risk for circadian misalignment if they work rotating or night shifts, and losing an hour of sleep due to daylight saving may be the most difficult for them.

An NSC probability-based survey released last year found 43 percent of Americans say they do not get enough sleep to mitigate the impact on critical work and road safety risks, including the ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be productive.

The NSC recommends employers look for signs of fatigue among their entire workforce today, the day after the time change, but especially workers who:

  • Are shift workers;
  • Work long shifts;
  • Put in long weeks;
  • Do not get regular rest breaks;
  • Get less than 12 hours off between shifts;
  • Have sleep deficiencies;
  • Work high-risk hours, such as overnight or in the early morning;
  • Have physically or mentally demanding jobs; and
  • Experience long commutes.

Lack of sleep costs $410 billion in societal expenses annually, according to NSC, which offers a Fatigue Cost Calculator to help employees determine the cost of fatigue on their workforce and how to solve the problem, as well as a Fatigue Kit for employers to educate their employees about fatigue and how to get better, healthier sleep.