Workplace Fatigue a Growing Concern

A Growing Number of Workplace Injuries Attributed to Tired Workers

Published on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Do not sacrifice sleep. 

A growing concern among factors that contribute to workplace injuries is fatigue. Fatigue is a general term that encompasses feelings of drowsiness or tiredness, lack of energy, and a need to increase effort to perform job tasks effectively. 

According to The National Safety Council, a systematic review conducted by Katrin Uehli (2014), a sleep disorder researcher, found that workers with fatigue issues have a 1.62 times greater risk of injury than workers who don't experience issues with fatigue. The study estimates that 13 percent of work injuries can be attributed to sleep issues. Shortened sleep duration and an increase in weekly work hours are leading factors associated with these risks.

A rotating work schedule can also result in worker fatigue. According to OSHA, nearly 15 million people work rotating, irregular, or extended shifts. This can result in heightened levels of stress, poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity – which can all contribute to poor sleep.

The best way to combat fatigue is to ensure you're getting enough, and consistent sleep. It is recommended that you sleep between seven and nine hours each night. If you don’t receive enough sleep risks can include a decrease in cognitive performance and judgement, depression, obesity, increased risk in automobile accidents, etc.

Contributing factors to sleep deprivation can include alcohol, caffeine, bedroom environment, and tv/phone/tablet screens. Alcohol can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause poor-quality sleep. Caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns and should be avoided for up to six hours before bed. Your bedroom should be cool and dark, and you should refrain from using screens for at least 30 minutes before bed.

There is no substitution for a good night’s sleep! Once you get into a good sleep pattern stick to it.  

See NSC's page for helpful charts detailing comparisons of workers with varying amounts of work hours, sleep hours, and injury rates.