It’s hard to overestimate the value of a good night’s sleep, particularly when it comes to environmental health and safety. According to Fatigue in the Workplace, a recent report by the National Safety Council, fatigue threatens worker well-being and productivity, “affects employees’ ability to think clearly, slows reaction time, and decreases attention, vigilance, short-term memory, judgment, and other functions.” The report further states that “employees with sleep problems are at higher risk of injury,” and “as sleep duration decreases, injury risk increases.”
Okay, so maybe you didn’t need the NSC to tell you that. Fatigue is an obvious and pervasive problem. Chances are you’ve witnessed or experienced it firsthand, in the form of lost productivity, absenteeism, near-accidents, or workers falling asleep on the job. All together, these issues carry massive costs; the NSC estimates a typical employer with 1,000 employees will lose more than $1 million each year due to fatigue.
Companies Are Asleep at the Wheel—in More Ways Than One
Cleary, companies should be committed to solving fatigue and sleep deprivation—and most already are. Still, the NSC’s report reveals that most employers “underestimate the prevalence of fatigue in the workforce” and “do not communicate with employees about fatigue.” Many also believe their workers “would not be comfortable admitting they are too tired to perform their job safely.”
Contrary behavior, wishful thinking, and willful denial around fatigue are not exclusive to employers. Employees frequently work against their own health and safety: