Are You at Risk for Occupational Fatigue?
Everyone can come home from a long day at work and feel a little tired. Sometimes, your job is so physically demanding that after a long day you are downright exhausted. However, you relax at home, get some sleep, and you go back to it again the next day without much thought. After all, this is just what it is like to be an adult, keep a job, and maintain your lifestyle, right?
After a few months of the same cycle, you notice you sleep less and less, your productivity at work starts to drop, you are nodding off at the wheel of your car, and no matter how much makeup sleep you try to squeeze in on the weekends, you are infinitely tired. Sadly, this is a common occurrence in America’s workforce, and it is known as occupational fatigue.
Occupational fatigue is more than an inconvenience or health concern, it is also a serious safety concern for the tired worker and the employees around them. When an employee is tired, their reaction and judgment become impaired and they increase the chances of causing an accident or injuring themselves. These risks are more prevalent in industries that are already high-risk for injuries such as construction, truck driving, and industrial work.
Understanding the Causes and Effects of Occupational Fatigue for Workers in West Palm Beach
According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, fatigue is the natural response to a combination of sleep deprivation and extended hours of physical or mental labor. Some employees are at higher risk for occupational fatigue when:
- They work more extended hours, such as 8-hour, 10-hour, or 12-hour shifts.
- They take on a heavy workload – taking on tasks that should be split among multiple workers.
- They have a lack of sleep at home because of limited hours to sleep.
- They suffer from medical conditions that prevent them from getting adequate sleep each night.
Industries at High Risk
Some industries, such as healthcare workers and semi-truck drivers, are at higher risk for having fatigued employees. First responders who work long hours on limited sleep are also at high risk.
Any time an employee works long hours, takes on overtime, works overnight, and works multiple long days in a row, they are at high risk of fatigue.
The Effects of Occupational Fatigue Hurt Everyone
Workers who are tired and take on too many tasks face numerous adverse effects. While some of these are minor, others can affect the business, community, and safety of the employee. These effects include:
Slower Reaction Time – A well-rested employee can react in an emergency, counter on the roadway better, and have better judgment. When they are not rested or are chronically fatigued, their reaction time slows significantly. This means higher chances of motor vehicle accidents, trip and falls, and even catastrophic injuries from heavy machinery.
More Errors – Employees who are fatigued make more errors. These errors could lead to defective products, for example. This could cost a company thousands – if not millions – in product liability lawsuits if that defective product were to injure someone.
Workplace Safety Accidents – According to the National Safety Council (NSC), workers who suffer from sleeping disorders are more likely to be in a workplace safety accident.
Productivity Losses – Fatigue-caused productivity losses can cost companies $2,000 per worker annually.
Who Is at Fault for Worker Fatigue?
When an employee becomes so tired that they injure themselves or others, you may wonder who is at fault for the fatigue-related injury.
While working, and an accident occurs, the employer may be held at fault. In fact, if the employee is injured on the job while performing his or her regular duties, they may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Supervisors in high-risk industries should do more to monitor their staff. They should know the signs of a fatigued worker, act when employees show signs of being overworked, and take measures to prevent workplace hazards.
Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation If You Are Injured at Work While Being Tired?
Employers in the state of Florida are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Any worker who is designated as an actual employee (not a contractor), can receive compensation for a work-related injury.
For example, you work 12-hour days for seven days in a row. You are so tired that you crash a forklift at work, causing severe injuries to yourself. While you caused the accident, you were performing your regular job duties when the accident occurred. Therefore, you may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Exceptions to the Rule
While most work-related injuries are covered (including those caused by sleep deprivation), there are exceptions. For example, if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, you will be disqualified from seeking compensation.
Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for a Sleeping Disorder?
Some employees wonder if they could receive workers’ compensation for developing a sleep disorder from their work. Technically, you cannot file a claim solely for sleeping disorders. However, you can file a claim with a sleeping disorder as an add-on. If your job causes a physical injury, which develops into a sleeping disorder, then you may qualify.
Your attorney would need to prove that there is a direct connection between your work and your inability to sleep. These types of cases are complicated to prove and often require numerous experts to testify to the fact that your job has led to your injury, stress, or inability to sleep.
Injured at Work? You Can Benefit from Hiring a Workers Compensation Attorney
If you have suffered a fatigue-related injury or you want to learn about whether you can receive compensation for your sleep disorder, speak with an attorney from the Law Office of David M. Benenfeld, P.A.