National Safety Month Highlights Dangers of Workplace Fatigue
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 8, 2019 – The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) recently joined forces with safety professionals to draw attention to the hazards of workplace fatigue. June marked National Safety Month in the United States.
Fatigue is dangerous for the health and safety of employees. A National Safety Council (NSC) report revealed that fatigue is responsible for 13 percent of injuries on the job. Around 43 percent of workers said they are sometimes too exhausted to complete tasks safely.
“It is important for employers to fulfill their responsibility of providing employees with a safe workplace, not only in terms of safety equipment but also basic factors like scheduling, which contribute to their wellbeing,” commented Paul Greenberg, a personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. “Otherwise, employees are exposed to the risk of serious workplace accidents and injuries. Individuals who have been hurt on the job are entitled to financial support through workers’ compensation.”
Workplace fatigue puts employees at a high risk of suffering injuries and illnesses on the job. The U.S. Department of Labor noted there is an almost 40 percent spike in injury risk when employees work long shifts of 12 hours. Nighttime shifts have a 30 percent higher risk of accidents and injuries in comparison to daytime shifts.
The NSC identified multiple factors that play a role in worker fatigue including night shifts, overtime scheduling, insufficient time off between shifts and lack of rest areas for workers in the workplace. Employees who work irregular or long shifts are more prone to workplace fatigue, such as firefighters, police and those in the health care and transportation industries. Reduced alertness resulting from worker fatigue has contributed to some of the world’s most devastating industrial disasters, including the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and the Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has practical recommendations for employers to minimize workplace fatigue. They can incorporate more opportunities for rest breaks into schedules, ensure there is proper lighting in the workplace, evaluate staff workloads and hours, and better train workers about the dangers of fatigue.
IDOL Director Michael Kleinik pointed out that “a good night’s sleep” is also a key part of workplace safety and should be treated with as much importance as proper equipment and training. He added that tired employees put both themselves and other coworkers at risk.
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