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Sleep deprivation
Personal Injury

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents can occur for any number of reasons and often result from poor employee training, failure to implement applicable safety protocols, and lack of safety equipment available throughout the workplace. While these remain top causes of preventable workplace accidents, they are not the only factors. Fatigue in the workplace is responsible for thousands of workplace accidents annually across the country. Understanding the role sleep deprivation and fatigue play in causing on-the-job errors can educate both employers and employees on fatigue warning signs, which could reduce the number of Texas workplace accidents.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

As it turns out, there is some truth to jokes made about people requiring beauty sleep. The human body requires sleep in order to “repair” and recharge itself. The average adult requires between seven and nine hours of sleep each night; however, 30% of American adults reported sleeping less than an average of six hours per night. Without adequate sleep, normal bodily functions can be severely affected – like the ability to focus and of course remain conscious. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 43% of American workers suffer from sleep deprivation. Considering major industries like transportation employ over 3.5 million large truck drivers, this is an extremely troublesome statistic. This means that a massive portion of the workforce – across all industries – is attempting to fulfill daily job duties while sleep deprived. Coffee and caffeine jokes aside, sleep deprivation can cause an employee to make serious mistakes when not alert and attentive to the task at hand. These workplace errors, no matter how simple, can transform a safe work environment into the scene of an accident.

Consider the transportation industry and its employees once again. Driving while fatigued affects the body similarly to driving while drunk or otherwise impaired. In fact, being awake for more than 20 hours is equivalent to being legally drunk. Sleep deprivation can cause a person to feel drowsy and slows down a person’s ability to exercise proper judgment and react in a timely manner. Additionally, it can affect vision and motor skills; and, if severe enough, it can even cause a person to unknowingly fall asleep. If such a scenario happened to a construction worker wielding high-powered tools or a truck driver transporting a large cargo load, the repercussions could easily be catastrophic.

How to Fight Fatigue at Work

The simplest answer to the question of how to combat workplace fatigue would be for employees to adjust their schedules to allow for adequate sleep every night; however, this is of course easier said than done for the majority of busy workers. From sleep disorders to multiple jobs and work schedules that do not align with standard 9:00 to 5:00 occupations, many workers believe achieving quality sleep is impossible. Employers, however, can take on this all too common workplace danger by educating employees on the dangers of working while sleep-deprived as well as make direct changes to schedules, such as requiring fewer overnight shifts and decreasing the hours per shift. Employers can also take the seriousness of sleep deprivation further and implement policies such as:

  • Allowing naps (if safe and necessary)
  • Not requiring employees to work overnight and long shifts back to back
  • Reducing standard shift hours
  • Requiring a specific amount of rest time before returning to work (or before continuing a transportation route)

When employers and employees work together to address workplace dangers and risk factors, job sites become safer for everyone and employees can focus on effectively executing their job duties in a safe and efficient manner.

Corpus Christi Workplace Accident Attorney

Any workplace accident is a tragic event, but especially those that are easily preventable. Employees should not have to ignore their health or safety because irresponsible employers permit dangerous work environments. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact Corpus Christi workplace accident attorney John Flood today to discuss your case at no cost. There is limited time to act following a Texas workplace accident, so don’t delay.