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Avoid Workplace Accidents by Addressing Employee Sleep Patterns

According to Harvard sleep medicine expert Charles Czeisler, the amount of time Americans are sleeping on work nights has decreased by an hour and a half in recent years. When employees stay up late for various reasons and arrive at work with sleep debt, they unconsciously put themselves at risk for worker accidents. It is no secret that eight hours of sleep is a common standard for healthy individuals. Unfortunately, many Americans are not meeting that standard.

According to a 2011 sleep study conducted by Envisia Learning Inc., twenty two percent of employees experience tiredness through the day due to poor sleep quality. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can lead to accidents and injuries. An Institute of Medicine report states, "Almost 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries in the general population are associated with driver sleepiness. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year are spent on direct medical costs related to sleep disorders." On-the-job injuries can cost employers in medical expenses and legal liability.

One method for mitigating risk is to educate employees about their health and provide tips and best practices for achieving a sufficient night of sleep.

Benefits of 8 Hours of Sleep

• Sleep restores vital organs;
• Sleep calms the mind;
• Sleep allows the body to heal from sickness and strengthens the immune system;
• Sufficient sleep provides energy and has anti-aging properties.

Many factors affect quality and quantity of sleep. Some, when untreated, can lead to sleeping disorders. These include poor air circulation, environmental noises, and a stressful environment. A healthy sleep schedule can benefit from the following:

• Establishing a bedtime routine;
• Creating a stress-free environment in the bedroom;
• Exercising;
• Avoiding caffeine and nicotine prior to going to bed.

As firms become more educated about the possible effects of sleep deprivation, including memory loss, slow reactions, decreased performance, increased mood swings, loss of productivity, and potential accidents, some are changing office life for their employees. Companies like Ben & Jerry's, Capital One Labs, Google Inc., and Zappos Inc. offer napping pods and rooms dedicated to helping employees catch up on sleep. A few employer tips include:

• Revisiting and revamping policies that address employee fatigue;
• Offering pods or quiet spaces for employees to nap or ease stress;
• Creating PTO and vacation policies that encourage workers’ stress reduction;
• Offering training in sleep deprivation and methods for reducing insomnia.

Sleep is a basic need for all humans and proper sleeping habits can contribute significantly to good health. Employee sleep proficiency can benefit productivity and reduce accidents. For other tips to assist your lone workers safety check out our white paper: Using Lagging and Leading Indicators to Improve Workplace Safety.

References:

Nowack, Kenneth (2016, August 31) How Sleep Affects Performance – And What Companies Can Do. Retrieved August 3, 2017, from http://www.talenteconomy.io/2016/08/31/sleep-affects-performance - and-companies-can/

National Sleep Foundation (2008) Sleep, Performance & the Workplace. Retrieved August 3,2017 from http://www.sleepcenterofgreaterpittsburgh.com/downloads/sleep_performance_the_workplace.pdf

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