According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 69 percent of workers in the construction, transportation, and manufacturing industries say they suffer from on-the-job fatigue. The NSC recently released a report on this very serious problem, The Fatigue in Safety Critical Industries report, which delineates common causes and symptoms of fatigue, as well as the extensive associated costs.
It’s a well known fact that construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Among the most deadly construction accidents are falls from high places (ladders and scaffolding), being struck by objects, electrocutions, and becoming caught in materials and equipment. The risk of every one of these serious accidents is dramatically increased by worker fatigue. A MA work injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.
Although nearly two-thirds of all construction workers admitted to working while fatigued, the group said they were well aware of the risks involved with doing so. The NSC is urging employers in these industries to assess the level of fatigue their workers are experiencing, and to initiate policies that reduce worker injuries and deaths related to fatigue. One fatigued worker can put an entire team at risk, and the costs associated with fatigue-related accidents are shockingly high.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Worker Fatigue
The Fatigue in Safety Critical Industries report outlined common causes of worker fatigue and the symptoms to look for in employees and co-workers:
- Lifestyle-related sleep deprivation
- Sleep deprivation related to medical conditions
- Working too many consecutive days
- Shift work
- Demands of a physical job
- Workplace and life stressors
- Monotonous, repetitive tasks
- General tiredness, sleepiness, or lethargy
- Loss of energy
- Slow reaction time
- Impaired decision making and judgment
- “Foggy” brain
- Loss of short term memory
- Reduction in productivity
- Excessive absenteeism
- Increased accidents and injuries
What Can Employers Do?
Obviously, employers are limited in their ability to improve the lifestyle and overall health of employees, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for employers to reduce workplace fatigue. For starters, they can pay closer attention to the amount of consecutive hours and days their employees are on the clock. Double shifts, back-to-back night and day shifts, and too many days in a row can easily cause fatigue. As such, employers should limit fatigue-inducing schedules as much as possible. Also, employers can ensure that all workers (but especially those working challenging shifts/hours) have access to regular breaks during which they can rest, grab a snack, and drink plenty of water.
Workers with boring, repetitive tasks can also be plagued by fatigue. In order to reduce this risk, employers should rotate job responsibilities so that no worker is stuck with the same boring, repetitive task for too long. And any time a job is physically demanding, workers should receive frequent breaks. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages or obtain workers’ compensation if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.
Finally, a safe work environment is key to reducing accidents, fatigued or not. Employers should ensure that all workers have access to well-maintained personal protective gear, and that everyone receives adequate training and supervision. Continue reading