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Survey shows workers may be ignoring fatigue on the job

Work-related stress affects 94 percent of workers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. Stress can lead to burnout, fatigue and chronic health conditions like depression and anxiety. It also leads to numerous accidents and a loss of productivity that costs employers from $450 billion to $550 billion every year.

A survey from the National Safety Council found that 69 percent of employees feel fatigued at work. The report goes on to say that there is a discrepancy between how employers perceive fatigue risk and how employees perceive it. 90 percent of employers said they recognize the impact of fatigue on their organizations, whereas only 72 percent of employees believe fatigue is a safety risk.

The NSC identified the manufacturing, utilities, construction and transportation industries as being the most safety-critical. 97 percent of employers in transportation understood the impact of fatigue: the highest percentage among employers in these industries. Among employees, 100 percent who work in construction reported experiencing at least one fatigue risk factor. Common risk factors include long shifts and sleep loss.

The report concludes that many employees have become desensitized to the dangers of fatigue, such as working in a distracted frame of mind and calls for increased training on this matter. Employees could also learn to manage stress and emotional problems through well-being programs and employee assistance programs.

Employees who are injured or develop an illness because of fatigue might still be compensated for their medical expenses for a portion of their lost wages. All they have to do is file a workers' comp claim. They will need to show how their reported condition is linked to work, but with a lawyer and his or her network of professionals, this might not be too difficult. Victims may be able to have their lawyer mount an appeal if the claim is denied.

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