Many Construction, Transportation, and Manufacturing Workers Compensation Claims are Due to Fatigue

Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2019 at 9:14 am    

According to a report cited by the National Safety Council, 69% of employees say they suffer from fatigue at work. The report is titled “Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks and Recommendations.” The report is based on several studies – one of workers and another was of a more mathematical survey. The NSC studied the utilities sector in addition to the other named work sectors.  

Fatigue at work can cause numerous types of accidents. The report noted that 90% of employers said that fatigue was impacting their businesses. Fatigue, employers understand, also decreases productivity in addition to causing workplace accidents. 72% of workers said they thought workplace fatigue was a safety issue – indicating a disparity between employer and employee views. Fatigue is especially dangerous in industry sectors where machines vehicles, equipment, and tools are part of the job.

Tired truck drivers for example can easily crash into other vehicles, lose control of their vehicles, run red lights, speed, or driver off the highway. These type of truck accidents often cause death. Survivors may suffer catastrophic injuries that leave them permanently disabled. Even workers who eventually can return to work need months or years of medical help.

Some of the other findings from the NSC report

  • In the transportation sector, 97% of employers thought that fatigue impacted their workers. This figure was the highest of all the sectors that were surveyed. 68% of workers admitted to sleep loss and 42% admitted to working long shifts – both are risk factors for fatigue.
  • In the utility sector, 95% of employers agreed that is not safe to drive while tired. Only 2/3rds  of the employees said they agreed that tired drivers make for dangerous drivers
  • In the construction industry, all surveyed workers said they had at least one risk factor for fatigue. 46% of the workers said they worked during times that were high-risk for fatigue – namely at night and early in the morning.

The NSC’s mission is to help prevent deaths at work and elsewhere. Founded over 100 years ago, in 1913, the NSC works with businesses, government, elected officials, and others to help prevent deaths. The fatigue report found that lack of sleeps results in $410 billion yearly in “societal expenses.”

Common accidents where fatigue plays a factor

In the construction industry, fatigue can easily cause a tired worker to slip and fall. Workers can be electrocuted if they don’t follow safety rules. They can be hurt from falling objects. They can fall from scaffolds. They can be struck by moving equipment.  

In the manufacturing sector, tired workers use many different types of heavy machinery. If they’re tired, these workers pose a risk to themselves and everyone in the workforce.

Tired drivers aren’t paying attention to the traffic in front of them. They’re slow to recognize emergencies and too slow to respond. For example, they don’t apply the brakes quickly enough. They don’t steer out of trouble. Many tired drivers are also easily distracted because they’re grabbing for the coffee, rolling down the windows for fresh air, or doing other things to try to stay awake such as taking amphetamines – when they should just get off the roadway.

It is precisely because tired truck drivers are dangerous drivers, that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has federal regulations. Drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours of rest. There are limits on how many hours truck drivers can work during a 60-hour week and during a 70-hour week.

Some of the symptoms of workplace fatigue

Common fatigue symptoms that workers and employers should be on the lookout for include:

  • Lack of energy
  • General tiredness and fatigue
  • Constant yawning
  • Slow reaction times
  • Impaired decision making
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Needing stimulants to stay awake

Common causes of driver fatigue

  • Working too many days in a row
  • Working night hours
  • Being deprived of sleep due to lifestyle choices
  • Being deprived of sleep due to the need to take certain medications
  • Heavy labor places a lot of wear and tear on a body and can tire people out
  • Doing boring repetitive tasks all work day long
  • Working different shifts in the same week
  • Being absent from work
  • Reduced productivity
  • Getting into more accidents of any type
  • Making mistakes in job performance

How employers can address driver fatigue

Employers should consider making the following workplace changes so that employees are energized so they can better focus on their job duties:

  • Avoid double shifts – day work and night work
  • Avoid multiple night shifts
  • Monitor the hours the employee is working better so they have time to get the rest they need
  • Make sure workers who do strenuous work and who do work long hours are able to take longer work breaks. Breaks should include time to drink, get a bite to eat, and to rest if needed.
  • Job assignments should be rotated so that workers with monotonous jobs can do more interesting work to balance out their work time.
  • Workers who do heavy lifting, use heavy machinery, or do any job which puts a lot of pressure on the body – should be given some assignments that are less strenuous
  • Employers should understand the OSHA and industry safety standards and apply them to reduce the likelihood a tired worker will get into an accident.

 

In workers’ compensation cases, an injured worker is not required to prove that the employer was at fault for the accident. There’s no need to prove the employer made the employee work harder or longer than necessary. There’s no need to show the employer failed to follow proper safety laws.

In North Carolina and in Virginia, if an employee suffers an accident in the course and scope of employment, regardless of fault,  the worker is entitled to state workers’ compensation benefits. Standard work injury benefits include 2/3rds of the worker’s average weekly wages while he/she is unable to work and payment of all reasonable medical bills. Attorney Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured workers in both North Carolina and Virginia get the pay and medical benefits they deserve. For help now, please call me at 1-(888) 888-694-1671 or complete my contact form to schedule a free consultation.