For many workers, performing work-related tasks while fatigued can be extremely hazardous. This is especially true for truck drivers and workers in the construction and manufacturing industries, which involve working around large pieces of equipment and potentially dangerous machinery.
If you are one of these workers, ensuring you had enough sleep the night before clocking in can be essential for your safety. However, even if you have been in a workplace accident related to your fatigue, you should know that you may still have the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation for Workers
Being sleep deprived in the workplace can be very dangerous for workers. While this is mostly true for workers involved in the industry types listed above, all workers may be at risk. The workplace safety publication, EHS Today, lists the following as some of the most pressing dangers of sleep deprivation for workers:
- Higher risk of accident while driving – For those who drive vehicles for work—cargo vehicles, delivery vehicles, commercial vehicles or otherwise—being fatigued can be deadly. In fact, according to the S. Department of Transportation, nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes every year. Truck driver fatigue is a leading factor. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association reports that fatigue is involved in 13 percent of truck crashes, or approximately 18,000 crashes. When a driver is fatigued, he or she may have more difficulty concentrating and focusing on the road and may even fall asleep at the wheel.
- Decreased communication abilities – According to EHS Today, when workers are tired, they are worse communicators than when they are fully rested. In many industries, being able to properly communicate with other workers is an essential part or not only getting the job done right but also making sure that everyone is safe during the process.
- Increased risk of errors – According to a report titled, “Sleep, Fatigue, and Safety” presented at an OSHA Safety Conference, sleepiness can lead to many errors on the job. In fact, one out of five pilots has admitted that they have made a serious error due to sleepiness, one out of six train operators has admitted the same, and 14 percent of truck drivers have said that they have experienced a “near miss” due to sleep deprivation. A tired worker could fall off a roof due to fatigue, or a construction worker could be caught in between machinery as a result of an error caused by fatigue.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
You may think that you are sleeping enough. However, the truth is that, if you are getting fewer than seven hours a night, you may not be getting the rest that you really need. Furthermore, if your sleep is interrupted, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation.
Some of the signs of sleep deprivation include:
- Decreased libido
- Mood problems (such as feelings of depression and anxiety
- Weight gain
- Acting irrationally
- Dozing off or having trouble staying awake.
If you think that you may be sleep deprived, take the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleepiness Test. How you do on that test may convince you that you should be getting more sleep at night.
How You Can Get More Sleep Before Work
If you are deprived of sleep, knowing what to do to change your habits and get the sleep that you need can be difficult. Try these tips, recommended by both the National Sleep Foundation and the Mayo Clinic:
- Set a bedtime routine – If you are getting into bed at a different time every night and are not following the same routine every evening, your body may have a hard time knowing that it is time to snooze.
- Wake up at the same time every day – One thing that can really disturb your sleep schedule and make falling asleep or staying asleep difficult is waking up at a different time every day. You should resist the urge to sleep in – even on the weekends.
- Exercise frequently – Exercise is proven to aid in sleep. If you find yourself unable to get enough shuteye, adding 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine might be the solution. Plus, this will improve other aspects of your health as well!
- Get rid of distractions – There are many things that can be distracting when you are trying to fall asleep. These might include a smartphone or tablet, TV or even a pet. When you are getting ready to go to bed, turn off your distractions. If you still cannot fall asleep, try to do a relaxing activity such as reading a book or trying to meditate.
- Avoid certain foods and beverages – Certain foods and beverages are known to inhibit a person’s ability to sleep. In the afternoon and especially before bed, try to avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sugar and high-carb foods.
All of these tips may aid you in getting a better night’s sleep, and in turn, improve your safety while at work.
Get Legal Help if You Are Hurt on the Job
If you are hurt on the job, you should know that workers’ compensation benefits protect you regardless of whether the injury was your fault or the fault of someone else. As such, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim even if your injuries were sustained as a result of your fatigue or the fatigue of another worker.
At the law office of Frank M. Eidson, P.A., experienced Orlando workers’ compensation lawyer Frank Eidson is dedicated to working on your case from beginning to end. He wants to help you to receive your full benefits amount after you have been injured in a workplace accident.
If you need assistance with filing your claim for workers’ compensation in Orlando or Winter Park, if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, or if you believe that your rights to workers’ compensation have in some way been violated, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free case review.