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How Fatigue Can Lead to Workplace Injuries

How Fatigue Can Lead to Workplace Injuries

Being tired at work is tough. Many of us have been there, nearly dozing off in the middle of a task, or sitting at a desk. Not only is being fatigued at work straight-up torturous, but it is also unsafe. In fact, employers are developing a greater awareness of the risks associated with being fatigued on the job, especially when performing jobs that require one’s full attention and alertness.

What Causes Fatigue?

What exactly is fatigue? Is it just wishing you had an extra half hour of sleep, or does it make you feel like you can fall asleep anywhere and at any moment? According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, fatigue is the body’s response to sleep deprivation or extensive physical or mental work that leads to exhaustion. Individuals who are subjected to long work hours, an abnormally heavy workload, lack of sleep, or suffer from certain medical conditions are all at risk for occupational fatigue.

Fatigue does not necessarily mean you did not get enough sleep, however. If an employee has poor social interactions with his or her co-workers, this can be stressful and cause one to feel fatigued.

The Effects of Fatigue in the Workplace

Workers who perform their duties while fatigued might experience a range of problems, including slower reaction times, frequent errors, and decreased cognitive abilities. Although occupational fatigue can occur in any field, several studies focus on its effects on shift workers, those who work in the health care industry, and drivers. These particular industries are at a higher risk due to the fact that it requires employees to work incredibly long hours, overtime, and with few or no breaks in between days, sometimes all while being exposed to harsh environmental conditions.

For those who work multiple jobs, the likelihood of suffering from fatigue is even higher, and leave little opportunity for de-stressing or getting rest.

To better illustrate the importance of sleep, let us look at the injury incidence rate. For workers who typically get less than 5 hours of sleep per day, the estimated annual injury incidence rate for every 100 workers is 7.89. For workers who get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep, the injury incidence rate per 100 workers is 2.27, according to the National Health Survey. Sleep clearly makes a big difference when it comes to safety.

What Can Be Done to Combat Fatigue?

To address this problem, both the employer and employee need to work together on creating a safer workspace by eliminating fatigue among workers. Workers can do this by making sure they take breaks and develop better sleep habits. The responsibility of this does not fall entirely on the shoulders of employees though. Recommendations for combating fatigue in the workplace include:

  • Promote the importance of sleep. Workers are more likely take this aspect of their well-being more seriously if their employer encourages it.
  • Create a brighter workplace and settings for naps.
  • Minimize noise, humidity, or vibration in workspaces and ensure the temperature is cooler, particularly at night.
  • Discourage the excessive use of electronic devices after work. When employees take work home by continuing to address issues via email or other electronic methods, this is taking away their chance to relax or rest.
  • Try to provide consistent scheduling.
  • Ensure that all workers have at least 2 consecutive days off.
  • Provide frequent breaks and make sure they are being observed.
  • Restrict consecutive day shifts to 5 or 6 days and night shifts to 4 days.

Employers or supervisors should also be aware of signs of excessive fatigue in employees. These signs include yawning, head dropping, and difficulty focusing, concentrating, or trouble with memory. Additionally, fatigue-related incidents should always be investigated and followed up with training as a form of risk management. When employers and employees help each other and, creating a greater awareness of the dangers of fatigue, this can contribute to workplace safety, higher productivity, and a healthier state of mind among employees.

Workplace Injuries in Longview

Workers deserve to perform their tasks in an environment that is safe and free of hazards that can lead to preventable accidents. Unfortunately, not every employer provides this and, when injuries occur, you might see the medical expenses quickly mount as you seek treatment and pay for medication to recuperate from your accident. Under Texas workers’ compensation law, you might be entitled to money that can cover these expenses as well as lost income. You might also be able to file a lawsuit against a responsible party for negligence to recover damages for your injuries and suffering.

At Erskine & McMahon LLP, we have nearly 100 years of combined legal experience and are proven and qualified to handle even the most complex personal injury claim. To us, you are more than just a case. We are committed champions for justice and, as such, our team always seeks to provide not only skilled legal counsel, but the kind of compassionate and understanding support every client deserves. Our Longview personal injury attorneys know you are enduring a difficult time right now, but you do not have to go through this alone. For a legal team that will tirelessly pursue maximum compensation on your behalf, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Call Erskine & McMahon LLP today at (903) 500-2490 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options.

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