6. The Special Risk for Shift Workers
Night shift and unusual shift workers who are at a higher risk of sleep deprivation should take even greater care to exercise healthy sleep habits and work with employers to avoid occupational health and safety hazards. In fact, fatigued workers are most susceptible to accidents between midnight and 8am, the time frame for many night shift workers. Night shift workers may find it more difficult to get on a regular sleep schedule or fall asleep while the sun is up, which can affect the ability to work while well-rested.
The Department of Labor states that there is no limit to the number of hours that one can work in a week. Therefore, nontraditional shifts have become a common occurrence in American culture. These long and sometimes rotating shifts pose a greater health concern than a traditional, eight-hour shift, and workers can mitigate health and safety hazards by learning to recognize their rights under OSHA, employer responsibilities, and the role of management in improving workplace culture for its employees.
7. Inability to Deal with Stress
Sleep deprivation has many physical consequences, but how does workplace fatigue affect workers emotionally? Getting less than the weekly recommended hours of sleep can have lasting effects on mood and stress levels. Fatigue can leave workers feeling irritated, depressed and even anxious, which can impact communication among colleagues and contribute to a more negative work environment. Unusual outbursts or disagreements may distract from the work at hand, leaving room for error or safety and health hazards. If lack of sleep affects mood, the energy and motivation to carry out responsibilities may be nonexistent.
Stress and emotional distress will also hurt quality of sleep. If workers experience anxiety or heightened levels of stress, high pressure operations can pose a greater risk. As stress grows, the quality of sleep decreases, continuing a sleep-stress cycle that leads to more long-term health issues and productivity issues in the workplace. This stress bleeds into personal life, and personal issues have been cited as a primary or secondary cause for industrial accidents. Finding ways to reduce stress, such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and reducing financial worries through options like car and home warranties, can provide relief and peace of mind.
8. Sleep Deprivation Reduces Productivity
Each year, the US incurs a productivity loss of $136.4 billion as a result of sleep deprivation. These costs are associated with a number of issues, including reduced efficiency, high injury and worker compensation costs, and increasing absenteeism for illnesses related to fatigue. As work hours increase, output decreases and performance levels falter. Employers may lose the equivalent of days worth of work throughout the year as ensuing fatigue influences efficiency and overall health.
In the manufacturing industry, this decline in productivity and health is evidenced by decreased outputs and GDP. Machines, by comparison, take much longer to wear out than their human counterparts. This is a crucial fact to remember for employers, and health should be taken into consideration for its relationship with productivity.