Baehman Law

Could sleep deprivation lead to an industrial accident?

Americans tend to be sleep deprived. The struggle to maintain a work-life balance isn't easy, and the pressure of keeping up with work, managing a household and -- every so often -- having a social life can make it difficult for people to get the sleep they need.

However, a lack of sleep isn't just likely to make you grouchy or cause dark circles under your eyes. It could literally maim or kill you if you happen to work around heavy machinery in an industrial setting.

Here are some of the ways that sleeplessness can affect you:

  • You become more likely to make simple errors.
  • Your reaction times are slower.
  • Your thinking can become clouded.
  • You can easily misjudge your capabilities and believe yourself more capable of performing normally than is accurate.

A sleepy worker is actually 70% more likely to end up in a work-related accident than one who's gotten enough sleep. Sleepy workers are also more than twice as likely to die in a work accident than non-sleepy workers. Sleep deprivation may also lead to chronic health conditions like sleep apnea and weight gain.

If you're still not convinced about the dangers of sleeplessness, consider this: One of the worst industrial accidents in history, the meltdown of the nuclear power reactor at Three Mile Island, is believed to be connected to worker fatigue. The overnight shift workers blamed sleepiness for their failure to respond quickly enough to alerts that could have prevented the disaster.

In many cases, employers may be contributing to their employees' problems. Many industries make a habit of assigning shift work on a rotating basis. It can be very difficult for workers to adjust to these changes in such a short period of time. Other industries respond to fluxes in demand by putting employees on double or triple shifts -- wearing them out and contributing to the chances that someone will get injured or hurt.

If you've been injured in a factory or warehouse accident because your employer assigned you too many hours, split shifts or otherwise contributed to your sleep deprivation, find out more about your potential right to compensation.

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