Sleep-Deprived Workers Raise Safety Concerns

Source: budabar - 123RF

Workers in construction, manufacturing, operations, and even healthcare are exposed to safety and health hazards on a daily basis—chemicals, ladders, fires, and dangerous machinery can all cause serious injury.

One of the most overlooked occupational hazards, however, is neither a machine nor a chemical. Sleep deprivation, according to the National Sleep Foundation, increases the likelihood of a workplace accident by 70%.

Stress over a global pandemic, high unemployment rates, risk of getting sick, protests, and conversations about social and racial injustices and much more in just a few short months are some of the reasons workers are sleep deprived.

The effects of fatigue have often been compared to the effects of alcohol, resulting in impaired judgment and poor performance.

Tired workers pose 10 major dangers, in particular, OSHA explains:

  • Improper safety enforcement and major injury;
  • Impaired motor skills;
  • Poor decision making and risk-taking;
  • Poor memory and information processing;
  • Falling sleep on the job;
  • The special risk for shift workers;
  • Inability to deal with stress;
  • A reduction in productivity;
  • An impact on worker’s in the long-term; and
  • A potential for overlooking signs of fatigued workers.

In May 2020, researchers surveyed 1,015 respondents in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 79 years old. Fifty-five percent were female, and 45 percent were male.

Of the participants, 13.4 percent were Gen Z, 51.6 percent are Millennial, 25.1 percent Gen X, and 9.9 percent Baby Boomer:

  • 53% of Americans spend less time for sleep after the lockdown;
  • 67% believe their sleep was healthier before the beginning of lockdown. Even after lockdown technically ended (but the pandemic and health advisories continue); and
  • 68 % of Americans feel stress or find it hard to sleep.

This stress and difficulty to sleep were categorized as:

  • Hard to fall asleep;
  • Stress and anxiety;
  • Don’t have enough sleep;
  • Don’t have a constant sleep schedule;
  • Have more vivid dreams or nightmares;
  • Experience sleep disorders; and
  • None of the above.

While there is nothing much you can do about the current circumstances, you can improve your sleep habits by:

  • Exercising more often/regularly;
  • Consistently go to sleep at the same time each night;
  • Listening to white noise or sleeping music; use a drug like CBD oil or supplements;
  • Cleaning your bedroom more often; or
  • Using sleeping apps.