Historically, fatigue has played a significant role in some of the world’s most infamous workplace accidents. The 1989 crash of the Exxon Valdez tanker ship that released 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown that unleashed radiation across a huge swath of territory in Europe, and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 that killed all seven of the vessel’s crewmembers all rank among the most high-profile work accidents in history—and in all three, fatigue was found to be a major causal factor.
But fatigue-related incidents aren’t always so easy to spot. In virtually every industry, fatigue, poor sleep quality, and lack of alertness have been found to contribute to accident and injury risks that can be seriously harmful to workers and costly to their employers. Studies have shown that at least 13% of work-related injuries can be attributed to fatigue, and data demonstrates that workers with sleep issues are 1.62 times more likely to suffer an injury than well-rested employees. Fatigue’s effects are comparable to those of inebriation, causing decreases in focus, reaction time, and physical abilities, all of which can lead to costly injuries.
Fatigue is defined as a consistent lack of quality, restful sleep that results in a range of impairments to an individual’s performance. Scheduling and rostering practices, shift work, and off-the-job factors can all contribute to fatigue, and OSHA data indicates that jobs with consistent overtime requirements are associated with a 61% higher risk of a work-related injury.
On this week’s episode of the DORN Injury Prevention Academy Podcast, we’re joined by leading fatigue expert Jeff Sease, a co-founder and current CRO and VP of Operations at Predictive Safety SRP, Inc. Jeff’s work has helped countless employers across a wide range of high-risk industries (mining, construction, manufacturing, etc.) manage the risks associated with worker fatigue through innovative technology solutions.
In this episode, we cover:
- How the study of fatigue and fatigue management has advanced since the high-profile accidents in the 1980s
- The building blocks of an effective fatigue management program and how employers can implement them
- Steps to improving and supporting overall worker wellness that can improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue
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