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DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Sleep Disorders And Workplace Accidents

I was listening to WHYN this morning and a segment on sleep disorders came on. I began wondering if there was a correlation between a lack of sleep and workplace injuries and fatalities.  I seems as though there would be.  I did some searches and didn't come up with much research in this area.

German workers take a nap at work.
The most recent study I could find was done in Canada and published in May 2010.  (Read the study here.)  Here are the conclusions:

"Trouble sleeping was associated with an increased risk of work injury. The number of injuries attributable to sleep problems was higher for women compared to men. While most job classes and shift types showed an increased risk of injury, some groups such as women in processing and manufacturing and those who work rotating shifts warrant further investigation and attention for intervention."

An article in Reliable Plant magazine reports that workplace injuries rise after the switch to daylight savings times.  (Read article here.)   The article reports:

"Researchers from Michigan State University studying industrial and organizational psychology, found that the number of workplace accidents spikes after Daylight Savings Time changes every March. On the other hand, they found no significant increase in workplace accidents or sleep loss when the clocks were set back an hour in November. In two separate studies, they found that the March switch to Daylight Savings Time resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American workers, a 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 percent more work days lost to injuries."

An article from EHS Today Magazine published in 2008 reports that a lack of sleep impacts workplace safety and provides a number of suggestions for what employers can do to reduce the likelyhood of an accident resulting from a lack of sleep. It states:

"According to Herdegen, employers can play a role in easing sleep deprivation in the workplace and reap the benefits of improved safety and reduced costs to their company by tuning into their workers. First, Herdegen pointed out, employers should be sure to break up the monotony of repetitive tasks."


Other suggestions include:

 -Using light to keep workers alert
- Allow workers to take naps by combining two 15 minute breaks
- Using a buddy system
- Limit coffee drinking after noon

 As I look at this issue I see that a lack of sleep is a contributing cause to workplace accidents, but it is difficult to address because it involves behavior at home.  Contributing factors include caffeine and diet and the timing of when food is eaten. Behaviors such as TV watching and heavy use of social media also contribute by keeping people up later than normal.

Related Past Posts:
Workplace Injuries Rise Following Change To Daylight Savings Time
Attacking Fatigue In The Workplace 
Noise Control, It's More Than Just Earplugs

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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