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Fighting Fatigue In The Workplace During National Safety Month

Since 1996, the National Safety Council has designated June as National Safety Month. Today marks 28 years of National Safety Month with the goal of increasing awareness of the leading safety and health risks facing employees. With the aim of decreasing the risk for workplace injuries and deaths in the U.S., this week’s Security Specialists Safety Theme is Fighting Fatigue in the Workplace!

Getting enough sleep is important for every employee to fight fatigue and do their job safely. Whether a truck driver, airline pilot, doctor or nurse, worker fatigue can have a considerable influence on your workplace financials, business reputation and the safety of fellow employees and customers.

People often make light of how little sleep they get. However, chronic fatigue, weariness and exhaustion have become a normal condition for many. In fact, insomnia is estimated to cost U.S. businesses more than $63 billion in absenteeism and reduced workplace productivity with accidents and occupational injuries adding up to $31 billion lost annually. Undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been estimated to cost $150 billion each year. Collectively, costs attributable to sleep deficiency in the U.S. exceeded $410 billion in 2015, equivalent to 2.28% of gross domestic product.

Exhaustion and weariness are increasingly recognized as a problem affecting the workforce. Research shows 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, a dangerous byproduct of a society that operates 24 hours a day.

More than 37% of employees are sleep deprived. Those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts, rotating shifts or irregular shifts.

When you consider humans can survive longer without food than without sleep then the seriousness of the issue becomes apparent. To prevent the potentially deadly impact of employee fatigue within your workplace, here are three quick tips that you should consider incorporating into your corporate safety policies and procedures.

  • Educate employees on the importance of getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily – prepare and distribute informational materials that highlight the importance of sleep. Recommend apps and tools that help employees track the quality and quantity of their sleep.
  • Take a second look at current job descriptions and workloads – If productivity is down, take a fresh look at specific job responsibilities and how they have changed over the years. If you see that specific position has additional or unbalanced responsibilities associated with it, consider redesigning the job to include a variety of balanced tasks instead of strictly all physical or all mental.
  • Change your work environment – fatigue-fighting lighting, ergonomic chairs and desks, anti-fatigue mats and allowing for more frequent rest breaks are a good first step.

Taking these small actions could be an important first step in battling exhaustion in your workplace.

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