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August 3, 2017

National Safety Council: 97 Percent of Workers Report Fatigue Factors

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According to a new National Safety Council survey-based report, 43 percent of Americans say they do not get enough sleep and are at risk of fatigue that can reduce their ability to think clearly, make informed decisions and be productive on the job and at home.

Fatigue in the Workplace: Causes & Consequences of Employee Fatigue shows that 97 percent of Americans say they have at least one of the leading nine risk factors for fatigue, which include working at night or in the early morning, working long shifts without regular breaks, working more than 50 hours each week and enduring long commutes. More than three of four Americans say they feel tired at work, 53 percent feel less productive and 44 percent have trouble focusing. Fatigued employees are more likely to make critical safety errors that could lead to injury.



Key findings from the report:

  • A person who loses two hours of sleep from a normal eight-hour sleep schedule may be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers
  • An estimated 13 percent of workplace injuries could be attributed to fatigue
  • 21 percent of all fatal car crashes – 6,400 deaths each year – are attributed to a drowsy driver

The survey – which will be released in three separate reports – also found:
  • 41 percent work high-risk hours, at least occasionally
  • 39 percent have trouble remembering things at work because of fatigue
  • 31 percent commute 30 minutes or more, which exacerbates the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel
  • 27 percent have trouble making decisions because of fatigue
  • 10 percent do not get regular rest breaks

There are geographical trends when it comes to the number of Americans with fatigue risk factors. This survey identified that the South has the highest mean number of risk factors at 3.21, while the Midwest has the lowest with 2.94 risk factors.

What to do to prevent workplace fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep and provide for adequate rest between physically or cognitively demanding activities
  • Talk to your doctor about getting screened for sleeping disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea
  • Align your natural body clock with your work schedule; some people who regularly fly through different time zones, for example, use melatonin to reset their circadian rhythms
  • If you work the night shift, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on your days off, and be sure to use blackout curtains to keep your bedroom dark
  • Instead of tossing and turning, try to find out what’s keeping you awake; your answer is likely to differ greatly from your colleague or neighbor

The complete report and more information about fatigue are available at nsc.org/fatigue.

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