Night shift workers are more vulnerable to workplace injuries


Tens of thousands of workers across California work outside the traditional 9-to-5 working hours to keep the economy running 24/7. The lack of sufficient sleep makes these workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries. Some of the most catastrophic industrial disasters like the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Three Mile Island Nuclear accident were partly to blame on sleepy workers on extended shifts.

Night work goes against the natural circadian rhythm of the human body, increasing the risk of on-the-job injuries and serious car accidents after shifts end. At risk are evening workers in the entertainment and hospitality industry who work from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and those on early-morning shifts like construction workers and farmworkers who do most of their work between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Then there are the through-the-night workers who do their jobs between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

The latter group typically include workers in jobs that put their own lives on the line to save others such as emergency medical services, firefighters, nurses, security workers, law enforcement and doctors. Commercial truck drivers also form a part of this group whose fatigue may jeopardize not only their own safety but also the safety of others. Working at such odd hours also damages personal relationships with family and friends, which could cause psychological damage.

Workers in California who suffer workplace injuries or occupational illnesses due to fatigue or sleepiness might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. The insurance system is a no-fault program that covers medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who was at fault. Many workers choose to focus on recovering and getting back to work while an experienced workers’ compensation attorney deals with the benefits claims process for them.

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