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Work injury: Over-tired workers at higher risk

The chief executive of the National Safety Council says impairment threatens the safety of workers nationwide, including in Illinois. Not alcohol or drug impairment, but the type brought about by a lack of rest or enough sleep to restore the proper functioning of the body. The executive says sufficient rest is the one thing that can prevent workplace accidents. In a recent survey of 2,000 workers, organized by the Council, more than one in four workers admitted to being at risk of suffering a work injury due to lack of sleep.

The survey results are backed up by the National Sleep Foundation that says workers who are sleepy have a 70 percent higher chance of suffering on-the-job accidents than those who are well-rested. The lack of sleep affects the abilities to think clearly and make educated decisions while being productive and alert enough to recognize potential hazards. Almost one-third of those who took part in the survey reported around six hours sleep a night while adults need between seven and nine hours every night.

In certain industries, being tired at work can easily lead to fatal workplace accidents. This applies particularly to factories, construction and those who drive vehicles for a living. Exacerbating factors to a lack of sleep include irregular and arduous conditions at work. Risk factors include work shifts that run through the night or early morning, the lack of regular breaks, lengthy commutes and work weeks that exceed 50 hours.

The survey showed that almost all of the participants nationwide indicated that they have one or more of the risk factors present in their lives. Research by a health economics professor in another state indicates that occupational injuries and illness cost taxpayers and companies about $250 billion each year. Any Illinois worker who is one of those who suffered a work injury may file a benefits claim with the workers' compensation insurance system for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.

Source:, "This is the worst mistake people make at work", Quentin Fottrell, July 29, 2017

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