Job fatigue is a hidden workplace hazard that impacts workers’ performance and can even lead to injuries. This troublesome issue is particularly common in the construction industry. A recent report by the National Safety Council found that 100 percent of construction workers reported having at least one risk factor for fatigue.
Sleep-Deprived Employees put Safety at Risk
Whether job fatigue is caused by lack of sleep or a rotating scheduling, it is a workplace safety problem every employer should learn to recognize.
“We’ve been looking at the impact of fatigue in the workplace for a long time, but it is troubling to see just how affected our safety-sensitive industries are,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager of the NSC’s Fatigue Initiatives. “When you’re tired, you can be deadly and these industries are already at higher risk because of their safety sensitive jobs. We urge employers to address fatigue risk in their workplace so all employees can be healthy and safe.”
From construction to manufacturing, it seems like more and more employees are running on empty. In fact, 90 percent of employers have reported feeling the impact of fatigue, including observing safety incidents and declines in productivity.
3 Consequences of Job Fatigue
Frequent fatigue can have both short-term and long-term consequences on construction laborers.
When fatigued, workers generally experience a decrease in their ability to perform basic cognitive functions, resulting in problems with attention span and memory.
Productivity and Safety Risks
Decreased cognitive performance can reduce productivity and jeopardize safety. For example, a tired worker may become slower and more error prone. One study found that 13 percent of workplace injuries could be attributed to job fatigue.
Health and Economic Costs
Due to productivity problems and higher safety risk factors, fatigued workers strain economic resources from themselves, their employer and society in general.
What Employers can Do to Help
Fatigue is often not the first issue addressed in the workplace. However, you can better protect your workers by following these three steps.
Before beginning a safety initiative, learn as much as you can about the issue, including its costs, causes and consequences.
The next step is to educate your workforce about how lack of sleep can impact job performance and safety.
Then, your company is ready to investigate the causes of fatigue on your job site and implement an internal initiative to address the problem.
But, How much can Lack of Sleep Really Cost?
Job fatigue is estimated to cost the country $410 billion annually in societal expenses. Want to know how much tired employees may be costing your business? Visit the National Security Council’s Fatigue Cost Calculator to find out more.