Consequences of Transportation Worker Fatigue

Consequences of Transportation Worker Fatigue

Sleep. One of those necessities of life that is in short supply for most of us. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” While it is recommended that people over age 18 get at least 7 hours of sleep each night for optimal well-being, as much as 35 percent of U.S. adults are not hitting that mark. Lack of sleep is associated with a number of problems, such as an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, developing chronic diseases, and having difficulty performing daily tasks. A fatigued workforce is a challenge in any industry, but for transportation personnel, it can be particularly dangerous – both for the worker and for those around them.

Whether in charge of a bus ride or a cross-country flight, transportation workers are responsible for safely getting people from place to place. Their irregular schedules and unusual working hours can greatly contribute to sleep deprivation, reducing reaction time, motor control, decision-making ability, and situational awareness. In one survey of transportation workers, 11 percent admitted that they came to work sleepy, while 15 percent of truck drivers and 20 percent of pilots and train operators cited lack of sleep as directly causing at least one serious incident or near-miss.

Some employees in the transportation sector may not have sufficient rest times between shifts to accommodate all the standard tasks of living (laundry, family obligations, home upkeep, shopping, etc.) in addition to sleep. Others may not be able to get quality sleep if their time off is during the day. Still others may be required by their jobs to sleep in their vehicles or at hotels.

It’s not hard to see the potential for disaster when pilots, air traffic controllers, cab drivers, bus drivers, train conductors, and others with similar occupation are so fatigued that they unintentionally fall asleep while at work. A rise in the last decade of a sleep-related breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) contributes to the problem of sleepiness-related fatigue in the transportation sector, affecting one-fourth of all adults between the ages of 30 and 70.

Furthermore, insufficient sleep can be costly for businesses. A recent study concluded that each year, sleep deprivation costs U.S. businesses 1.2 million employee work days and $411 billion in revenue. Lack of high-quality sleep has been linked to reduced productivity on the job as well as to less ethical – and less inspiring – behaviors. The cycle can be a vicious one with stress at work keeping you awake at night, which can lower productivity and cause more stress.

Whatever your occupation, you can promote good sleep habits by:

  • Going to bed at the same time each night
  • Getting up at the same time each morning
  • Not eating large meals before going to bed
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to bedtime
  • Turning off or removing televisions, computers, and mobile devices from your bedroom
  • Making sure your bedroom is an optimal sleeping temperature and is free from disturbing noises and distracting lights.

Sufficient rest is important, and we encourage our fellow Georgians to be proactive about their wellbeing. If you are trying to put your life back together after a work-related injury or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in Macon, we proudly serve communities throughout Georgia. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.