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August 03, 2017
Report calls fatigue a “hidden but deadly epidemic”

A new survey of 2,000 working adults concludes that 43 percent of U.S. workers believe they are too tired to function safely at work. The alarming findings are revealed in a new National Safety Council (NSC) Report, Fatigue in the Workplace: Causes and Consequences of Employee Fatigue.

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Results show that 97 percent of workers have at least one risk factor for fatigue, such as working at night or in the early morning, working long shifts without regular breaks, working more than 50 hours each week, and having long commutes. The NSC found that 76 percent of respondents reported feeling tired at work, 53 percent say they are less productive, and 44 percent have trouble focusing.

NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman called the findings a wake-up call, noting that tired workers put themselves and others at risk. She added, “We hope Americans recognize that impairment stems not just from alcohol and drugs but lack of restorative rest—fitness for duty starts with getting a good night’s sleep.”

According to the report, workplace fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors such as work schedules, environmental conditions, and job demands. NSC says employers need to understand the underlying causes of fatigue in order to identify potential sources of safety risks and implement appropriate countermeasures.

The document points to three levels of fatigue: decreased cognitive performance, microsleeps or nodding off, and increased risk for workplace injuries. The NSC cites one study that found a person who loses 2 hours of sleep from a normal 8-hour sleep schedule performs similar to someone who has consumed 2 to 3 beers. You can read the complete study here.

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