A recent National Safety Council report found that 70% of employees – many of whom work in safety-critical jobs – are tired at work. This enhances the risk of injuries and incidents on the job. The report – Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks, and Recommendations – provides a summary of the results of two national surveys that were done of employers and employees. The report shows findings from high-risk industries including construction, manufacturing, transportation and utility sectors. These fields often rely on shift work, which can increase the risk for fatigue.
The surveys also indicated the gap that exists between how employers and employees view risks and consequences of being fatigued at work. Ninety percent of employers feel the effects of fatigue on their companies, such as the observation of safety incidents that involved fatigued workers and reductions in productivity. But only 72% of workers thought being tired led to them being unsafe at work.
Fatigue has long been a common but veiled hazard in all places of work, regardless of the industry. In safety-critical work, however, the results of being tired at work can be fatal. For example, a mistake on a construction site or behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer can result in serious injury or death.
Other disturbing findings in the report include:
- 97% of employers in the transportation trades feel the effects of fatigue on the job, which is the highest among all safety-critical industries the NSC studies. This is particularly concerning because it suggests there are many commercial vehicle operators on the road driving beyond their limits on a regular basis.
- 95% of employers in the utilities industry said it is dangerous to drive when tired, but only 66% of employees in the industry agreed. So, this could suggest that drivers of utility vehicles are disregarding feelings of being tired behind the wheel and are pushing the limit.
- 100% of construction employees have reported at least one risk factor for job fatigue.
- 45% of construction workers reported they work during higher-risk hours, such as at night or early in the morning. People who work the late shift naturally are more inclined to be fatigued and make mistakes that could be dangerous in the construction industry.
- Transportation industry workers who reported a minimum of one risk factor for fatigue said that long shifts and sleep loss were problems in nearly 50% of cases.
There is no doubt that the high number of workers in higher-risk occupations being tired at work leads to more injuries and deaths on the job. Employers have an obligation to enact rules and regulations to ensure that their workers are not working beyond their physical limits. Hopefully, this NSC report will serve as a warning to employers in high-risk fields to train their workers to recognize signs of fatigue on the job and to take a break when needed.
Was a Loved One Injured on the Job? Call Us Today.
Do you have a loved one who was hurt on the job due to fatigue? You may be entitled to financial compensation through the workers’ compensation system or a personal injury lawsuit. Contact the Mann Law Firm today to learn more about potential damages, including medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.