Overexertion is the leading cause of non-fatal workplace accidents, resulting in often serious (and even fatal) injuries.
According to the National Safety Council, it accounts for the largest contributor to worker’s compensation costs. The bigger question remains: does fatigue play a role in occupational injury – and can employers do something about it?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Everyone Is Susceptible to Fatigue Related Injury
Fatigue is generally described as “feelings of drowsiness, tiredness, reduced energy and the increased effort to perform tasks effectively and avoid errors”(Dinges, 2001).
Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for injury caused by fatigue. Some of the most at-risk workers include:
- Military personnel
- Construction workers
- Oil field workers
- Hospitality workers
- Police officers, and;
- Transportation workers
When Do Injuries Peak?
Studies suggest that 13% of work injuries can be attributed to sleep problems. With so many workers struggling to fight fatigue, what exactly is the root of the problem?
According to a review conducted by Uehli of 27 research studies, fatigue related incidents occur when normal work hours increase. As demonstrated in the graph below, injury occurrences are highest in workers who normally sleep less than seven hours a day, and who work more than 40 hours a week.
When do injuries peak?
When employees work more than 40 hours a week and sleep less than 5 hours a night.
What Can Employers Do to Provide a Safer Work Environment For Everyone?
The danger of working when employees are either occasionally or chronically tired is not just their problem – it’s a problem that affects the entire organization. One tired employee (let alone dozens) can make an error in judgement or delayed ability to perform at work.
Even a minor error from fatigue can cause an entire workforce to be affected.
As the employer, you have control over the outcome.
Here’s three things you can do to reduce their risk of injury:
1. Optimize Schedules. As studies have shown, an increase in shift work causes an increase in injury. Cultivate a work culture that offers predictable schedules for your employees. Schedule employees for 8-10 hour shifts – no longer than 12 hours.
For the longer shifts, encourage regular breaks, and resting when it’s feasible and safe to do so. Adopt policies that discourage emailing or other work related tasks when they’re off duty.
2. Educate, Educate, Educate. Integrate sleep education into your wellness program.
Include tips on how to have high quality sleep (eating well, exercising during the week, stress management techniques) during safety training.
A little bit of information every month during training can lead to a big impact – and make a big difference in the overall safety of your employees.
3. Get the Support You Need to Care For Your Employees. Unfortunately, no matter how well you teach safety to your employees or how accommodating you are with their work schedules, accidents happen.
Injuries take place.
When they do, it’s important to have a incident case management team ready to assess and treat those injuries before they escalate to a dire situation, and to manage their ongoing care until they can return safely to work.
Contact an Injury Care Expert
We do the right thing for our clients by doing the right thing for their employees. It’s how we’ve been transforming occupational medicine for over 19 years.
Within minutes after your employee gets injured, they are speaking to an Axiom RN, licensed in their state, and assessing their injury. Because of our early intervention process, we are able to keep 65% of all cases treated and managed at a first aid level.
Want to learn more about our incident case management service?
We’d love to tell you all about it!
Simply fill out the form above, or call us at+1 (877) 502-9466!
Heather lives and writes by the motto, “No coffee, no workee,” and is passionate about helping others live a happier and healthier life. When she’s not writing away, you can find her playing basketball with her two sons, planning her next getaway “somewhere tropical” or trying out a new recipe with chocolate as the main ingredient.