The Occupational Effects of Fatigue

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According to the National Safety Council (NSC), Americans often don’t recognize the importance of sleep. More than 16% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. More than one in three workers report being fatigued.

The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives.

Our bodies are programmed to be tired at night and alert during the day, but work often requires us to override those natural sleep patterns. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts.

Following are a few facts for employers:

  • Safety performance decreases as employees become tired;
  • 62% of night shift workers complain about sleep loss;
  • Fatigued worker productivity costs employers $1,200 to $3,100 per employee annually; and
  • Employees on rotating shifts are particularly vulnerable because they cannot adapt their “body clocks” to an alternative sleep pattern.

The NSC supports science-based fatigue risk management systems in the workplace and recently convened a panel of experts to explore fatigue and its effect on occupational safety.