Nearly Half of Americans Too Tired to Function Safely at Work
According to a new National Safety Council survey report, 43% of Americans say they do not get enough sleep to mitigate critical risks that can jeopardize safety at work and on the roads, including the ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be productive.
Eighty-one percent of the probability-based survey respondents have jobs that are at high risk for fatigue—positions that require sustained attention or are physically or cognitively demanding, such as driving a vehicle or working at a construction site.
Fatigue in the Workplace: Causes & Consequences of Employee Fatigue found 97% 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.
Seventy-six percent of Americans say they feel tired at work, 53% feel less productive, and 44% have trouble focusing. Fatigued employees are more likely to make safety critical errors that could lead to injury.
“These findings are a literal wake-up call: When we’re tired, we can put ourselves and others at risk,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
A person who loses two hours of sleep may be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.
Fatigue impacts most Americans and, in turn, every workforce, too often resulting in disaster.
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% of workplace injuries could be attributed to fatigue, and 21% of all fatal car crashes—6,400 deaths each year—are attributed to a drowsy driver.
The survey also found:
- 41% work high-risk hours, at least occasionally.
- 39% have trouble remembering things at work because of fatigue.
- 31% commute 30 minutes or more, which exacerbates the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- 27% have trouble making decisions because of fatigue.
- 10% do not get regular rest breaks.
The number of Americans with fatigue risk factors varies with geographical location. According to the NSC survey, the South has the highest mean number of risk factors at 3.21, while the Midwest has the lowest with 2.94.
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