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Workplace injuries more likely when workers are fatigued

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is focusing on an initiative regarding the impact of worker fatigue. The agency urges employers in California to limit fatigue-related workplace injuries by establishing less demanding schedules. Irregular shifts and long, demanding work hours are not uncommon in modern workplaces, causing increased stress levels, poor health and worker fatigue.

According to the assistant director of the OSHA training center, worker fatigue puts not only the affected workers at risk but also co-workers. Reportedly, more than 10% of workplace injuries nationwide are fatigue-related, and more than four in 10 Americans say their ability to function at work is jeopardized by tiredness and fatigue. Some catastrophic industrial disasters like the 2005 explosion at the Texas City BP oil refinery and nuclear accidents such as those at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were linked to worker fatigue.

Other industries in which fatigue pose deadly risks include transportation and aviation, emergency response, firefighting, health care, and law enforcement, among others. Studies of fatigue in these occupations have provided authorities with enough information to implement in the mitigation of risk factors related to worker fatigue. Matters that employers are urged to examine include understaffing, workloads, extended work hours and worker absences — both scheduled and unscheduled. Alertness can be increased by improving temperatures and lighting in physical work environments, and allowing frequent rest breaks can also improve safety.

Workers of employers who take note of these recommendations might be less likely to suffer workplace injuries due to fatigue. However, victims of such accidents are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Navigating benefits claims could be challenging, but a California attorney with experience in this field of the law can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the legal and administrative proceedings in pursuit of maximum benefits under applicable laws.