The U.S. Department of Labor cites worker fatigue as a major factor in some of the world’s most tragic workplace disasters – and levels of worker fatigue seem to be drastically climbing. Caused by insufficient sleep, long commutes, and irregular or extended shifts, workplace fatigue is currently affecting 43 percent of American workers, who say they sometimes are too tired to function safely at their job.
About 13 percent of all workplace injuries are caused by fatigue, not only threatening the wellbeing of workers, but also costing employers more than $136 billion annually in health-related lost productivity. Those who work later shifts are especially at risk, as injuries increase by 18 percent during the evening and 30 percent during the night. Additionally, extended shifts lasting roughly 12 hours increase risk by nearly 40 percent.
In an attempt to address this growing epidemic, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests the following:
- Monitor workload, work hours, understaffing, and worker absences
- Schedule time for workers to get sufficient sleep and rest breaks
- Increase alertness in the workplace by adjusting the lighting, temperature, and physical environment
- Train workers on the symptoms and hazards of fatigue, as well as the importance of exercise, a healthy diet, and at least seven hours of sleep