Fatigue is a life-threatening occupational hazard

How many hours of sleep do you get every night? Studies show that fatigue leads to a significant percentage of workplace fatalities that occur in Oklahoma and other states. Many workers do not realize that sleep is crucial for human well-being and health. Life has become so rushed that many people disregard the importance of adequate sleep.

Fatigue will decrease your performance capacity, and that can lead to injuries that could even be fatal. For that reason, the National Safety Council urges employers to make sure their employees understand the importance of adequate sleep.

What is fatigue?

Although you might think sleepiness and fatigue are the same things, there is a difference. Sleepiness is a physiological desire to sleep. The lack of sufficient sleep causes fatigue, which is a social, mental and physical disability that includes sleepiness, tiredness and decreased energy. When you deprive your body of sleep, you will need to put in more effort to perform your tasks at the desired level.

What is sleep deprivation?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, all adults need to sleep for at least seven hours in each 24-hour period. One study said the effect of losing even one or two hours of sleep compares to the effect of drinking three beers. If this happens on consecutive nights, you will build up a sleep debt that could be life-threatening in your workplace.

Are you at risk?

Safety authorities say almost half of the U.S. workforce suffers from sleep deprivation. The following may indicate whether you are at risk of suffering workplace injuries due to fatigue:

  • Do you sleep for fewer than seven hours every night?
  • Are you a caregiver or parents of young children who keep you up at night?
  • Do you have an untreated sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea?
  • Do you take medication that interferes with your sleep?
  • Do you start working very early in the morning, or do you work for extended hours on rotating or night shifts?
  • Does your job require you to perform a tedious task repeatedly or for extended periods?

What are circadian rhythms?

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the body has a 24-hour cycle during which behavioral, mental and physical changes occur in patterns or circadian rhythms. Changes in the patterns can cause memory loss and impair your ability to concentrate. Any disruption of your body's built-in sleep-wake cycle can put you at a higher risk of suffering an on-the-job injury. Furthermore, disturbed circadian rhythms can also lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

How to deal with the consequences

If you have to deal with the consequences of workplace injuries that resulted from fatigue impairment, the resulting financial impact might also cause anxiety. You may find comfort in the knowledge that the Oklahoma workers' compensation program may provide benefits to cover all your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Furthermore, resources are available to assist you throughout the complicated claims process.

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