Let’s dissect and review the findings from national surveys about fatigue in the workplace. Emily Whitcomb, Senior Program Manager, National Safety Council lead a session at the RIMS 2018 Annual Conference to review the findings on employee-reported risk factors and on-the-job and on-the-roads safety risk due to fatigue.
What is fatigue? Fatigue is describe as the feelings of tiredness, sleepiness, reduces energy and increased effort needed to perform a tasks. Fatigue is an impairment that affects our performance. Employees with sleep problems produces a 6% decrease in productivity. That is about 11 days a year in presenteeism for untreated insomnia. Fatigue affects our safety. 13% of work injuries could be attributed to sleep problems. Some occupational disasters include Three Mile Island meltdown and Tracy Morgan’s limo bus crash. Drowsy driving is impaired driving. Driving on 4-5 hours of sleep mean you are four times more likely to crash.
National Safety Council survey findings
- 97% of employees have at least one risk factor for fatigue.
- 80% reported more than one risk factor. 43% if workers do not get enough sleep. Experts agree, seven to nine of sleep a day is necessary for proper rest.
- 37% of drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.
- 90% of employers reported being negatively affected by workplace fatigue.
- 47% of employers have experienced decreased productivity due to fatigue.
- Nearly 50% of employers have had an employer fall asleep on the job.
- 57% of employers report absenteeism due to fatigue.
- 32% of employers report injuries and near misses due to fatigue.
Sleep loss mimics alcohol intoxication. A person who loses two hours of sleep performs similarly to someone who drinks three beers. Drowsy driving is impaired driving. Performance affects are increased reaction time, decreased vigilance, decrease attention, decreased impulse control. Micro sleep is when the brain goes “offline” or short unintended sleep episodes. Driving while tired increases your crash risk similar to driving drunk. Night shift workers are three times more likely to get injured. They often struggle to stay alert during night time and struggle to sleep during the day. 59% of night shift workers sleep less than 7 hours.
Employers need to be aware of this fatigue issue and how it affects employee’s job. Its important for employers to stay proactive regarding workplace fatigue and this can potentially keep workplace injuries down or to a minimal amount.