Sleep Deficiency and Fatigue Causing More Workplace Injuries

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The number of health risks in the United States is incredibly high. When employees feel sick or need medical attention, they are entitled to sick days, which means there will be less productivity at the workplace while labor costs will remain the same. Furthermore, other employees will have to do extra work to cover for the sick employee. That is why integration of health and wellness strategies in the workplace is highly recommended.

To learn more, checkout this infographic below created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.


Infographic on Sleep Deficiency and Fatigue Causing More Workplace Injuries

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Americans are Sleeping Less

A team from the University of Chicago conducted a study on the sleeping habits of people and how these are affecting their work. They found that Americans have significantly reduced their sleeping time over the years. In the 1970s, the average was 7.1 hours per night. Nowadays, this has been trimmed down to just 6.1 hours per night. Many sleep between one and two less than they did sixty years ago according to the researchers. The statistics regarding those who are currently employed are even more worrying. About 3 in every 10 workers are only able to sleep for about 6 hours or even less.

Workers Short Sleep Duration

The time of work, number of jobs, and number of hours on the job all contribute towards shorter sleep duration. For instance, 44% of them turned out to belong to the night shift while only 28.8% belonged to the dayshift and the rest occupying other time slots. Around 37% of the respondents said that they are juggling two jobs or more and 36.2% declared that they were working more than 40 hours every week.

With these figures, it really is no surprise that their responsibilities are eating away at their resting time. The transportation and warehousing industry is the number one culprit while healthcare and social assistance, along with manufacturing, also contribute greatly to the sleep deprivation of US workers.

Reasons for Sleeping Less

It’s not only the quantity of sleep that is plunging but also the quality. Research shows that between 50 and 70 million adults in the US suffer from sleep disorder. Insomnia is particularly common. Individuals with this condition have difficulty falling asleep or stay sleep throughout the night. Billions of dollars are lost due to absences, accidents, and decreased productivity as a result.

Sleep apnea is another major problem. This breathing disorder can attack for brief periods during the night. These intervals are often enough to wake the person up and prevent restful slumber. It is a fairly widespread condition affecting 22 million Americans.

Some of the problems can be traced not to medical issues but to the working conditions themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at no point have Americans been working longer hours than today. As much as 22 million work outside the typical 9-to-5. These graveyard and rotating shifts result in less than ideal rest. Some are on-call 24/7. Their schedule cuts into their sleeping time by 2 to 4 hours.

Workers with Sleep Problems

Lack of restful slumber has troubling consequences. People become increasingly prone to being injured because of their diminished state. In fact, a look into the accident data shows that most of them occur during periods that are traditionally devoted to sleep: between 12 midnight and 6am, as well as the siesta hours between 1pm and 3 pm.

Working in jobs that have overtime schedules has been linked to a 61% increase in injury hazard rate. Going a little deeper, the risk is greater for people who are over the age of 30 and are sleeping for just 7 hours a night or less. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. Deficit is associated to large-scale disasters like the Chernobyl nuclear tragedy and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Steps to Reduce Sleep Problems

For employers, it would be helpful to limit scheduled work to no more than 12 hours a day. Take the leadership in creating a culture that values sleep as a vital part of ensuring productivity. Promote education programs about the subject. Try to reduce shift work, if possible. Devote spaces for quick naps and encourage workers to use them. When the workday is over, let people unplug completely so that they don’t have to bring their tasks at home.

For employees, create healthy habits that will ensure enough rest every night. Avoid late engagements, food, and caffeine prior to bedtime as these will make the body more hyper. Set a period that can be consistently be devoted to slumber. Get in bed, keep the phone away, shut down the computer, and turn off the lights before to scheduled time to eliminate distractions.