The busy lives of many people in California along with the demands they place on themselves lead to an acceptance of being over-tired and over-worked. Are you one of the members of the workforce who think a good night’s sleep is a novelty? You might not realize that insufficient sleep causes fatigue, the reason for a significant number of serious workplace accidents every year.
Your body’s internal clock has a specific cycle of alertness during the daytime and tiredness at night. Your work responsibilities might deny you the required seven or eight hours sleep per night, and if you work irregular shifts, extended shifts or night shifts, you will be at a higher risk of suffering fatigue-related injuries.
Typical fatigue-related hazards
Accident data indicates that fatigue, caused by sleep deprivation, apparently led to some of the major industrial accidents of the past. These include the nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Workers who were on duty during an oil refinery explosion that killed 15 employees in Texas had been on 12-hour shifts for almost 30 continuous days. Fatigue also poses the following hazards:
- Risk taking: If you do not sleep enough, you might be inclined to be impulsive and make poor decisions that might include taking unnecessary risks.
- Impaired motor skills: Studies show that going without sleep for 17 to 19 hours results in the impairment of motor skills and slowed reactions, which is comparable to alcohol impairment.
- Impaired cognitive functions: Fatigue can limit your ability to solve problems because it impairs your cognitive functions such as memory and the ability to process information.
- Stress accumulation: Limiting the number of hours you sleep can adversely affect your stress management ability. This can also increase the chances of having mood swings, and even personal matters can be secondary causes for workplace accidents.
- Shift worker risks: Statistics show that a significant number of workplace accidents occur during night shifts in the first eight hours after midnight. During these hours you must be particularly alert, which will not be possible if fatigued.
- Inability to stay awake: If you deprive yourself of sleep, you might fall asleep at work, and you will not be able to respond in emergency situations.
- Long-term dangers: Fatigue can become chronic long-term, and you could develop problems like obesity, digestion problems, heart disease and depression. Studies show that reproductive issues and even some cancers can result from chronic sleep deprivation.
Fatigue can compromise your immune system, making you susceptible to contract flu and other diseases.
Your chances of suffering work-related injuries
If your employer does not schedule your shifts in a way that will prevent fatigue, the company will have to deal with reduced productivity and increased insurance premiums that will follow workers’ compensation claims. You can apply for benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, and you are free to seek the assistance of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney to navigate the claims process for you in pursuit of maximum benefits.