Recognizing worker fatigue as an increasingly common workplace hazard, the National Safety Council is calling on all employers to implement comprehensive programs—known as fatigue risk management systems—that can help prevent the roughly 13% of workplace injuries attributable to sleep problems.

According to NSC research, 90% of America's employers have been negatively impacted by tired employees, and 43% of employees admit they may be too tired to function safely at work.

NSC has outlined key elements of a fatigue risk management system in its paper Managing Fatigue: Developing an Effective Fatigue Risk Management System.

Strong fatigue risk management systems blend employee education and training with improvements to workplace environments, culture change, and data-driven programs.

Another report, from NSC's EHS arm—the Campbell Institute—details results from a pilot study conducted among world class safety organizations to assess worker fatigue and effective countermeasures.

In Understanding Fatigue Risk: Assessment and Countermeasures, the Campbell Institute identifies a persistent gap between how employers and employees view fatigue and makes the case for changing culture to enhance safety.

Workplace practices and policies that contribute to worker fatigue include working night shifts and overtime, a lack of time off between shifts, and inadequate rest areas within the workplace for employees to take breaks.

Fatigue Price Tag

"In our 24/7 world, too many employees are running on empty," said NSC Senior Program Manager for Fatigue Initiatives Emily Whitcomb in a statement.

"Employees are an organization's greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries."

Fatigue not only hurts employees' well-being and safety, but it also carries a significant price tag, says NSC.

Fatigue costs the U.S. economy more than $400 billion annually, and an employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year in missed workdays, lower productivity, and increased healthcare due to employee fatigue.

"Even employers with state-of-the-art safety programs feel the negative effects of fatigue," said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute.

"As employers work to eliminate risks, we encourage them to implement fatigue risk management systems and lean on the Council and the Campbell Institute for help."


Register today fort the CBIA Safety & Health Conference, May 17,  2019, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Cromwell.