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7 in 10 employees tired at work

Majority of employers say fatigue impacts safety at their companies
| www.cos-mag.com

A new report has found 69 per cent of employees — many of whom work in safety-critical industries — say they are tired at work. The report, Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks and Recommendations, is released by the National Safety Council (NSC) in Itasca, Ill., and includes results of an employer survey and an employee survey.

Ninety per cent of employers feel the impact of fatigue on their organizations, including observing safety incidents involving tired employees and declines in productivity. However, just 72 per cent workers view being tired as a safety issue.

“We’ve been looking at the impact of fatigue in the workplace for a long time, but it is troubling to see just how affected our safety-sensitive industries are,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager of fatigue initiatives at NSC. “When you’re tired, you can be deadly and these industries are already at higher risk because of their safety sensitive jobs. We urge employers to address fatigue risk in their workplace so all employees can be healthy and safe.”

Fatigue is a common hazard in all workplaces, regardless of industry, but it can be even more concerning in safety-sensitive positions.

“The consequences of being tired can be catastrophic. For example, mistakes on construction sites, around gas line digging areas or behind the wheel of big-rig trucks easily can lead to injuries or even death,” the NSC said in a release.

When it comes to industry-specific results, the report found the following:

•97 per cent of employers in the transportation industry feel the impact of fatigue

•95 per cent of employers in utilities said it is unsafe to drive while tired, but just 66 per cent of employees in that industry agreed

•100 per cent of construction workers report having at least one risk factor for fatigue

•46 per cent of construction workers say they work during high-risk hours, such as at night or early morning.

Lack of sleep costs US$410 billion annually in societal expenses, and fatigue has a different price tag for each employer. NSC developed the Fatigue Cost Calculator to help employers determine how much a drowsy workforce is impacting their bottom lines and what can be done to solve the problem. The council also developed the Fatigue Toolkit for employers interested in educating their workforce about causes and consequences of fatigue in the workplace and on the roads.

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