There are many causes of workplace accidents. Fatigue is quickly becoming recognized as one of the top contributing factors, and is alarmingly common among American employees. It can also significantly increase the chances of being involved in an on-the-job accident. Workers may be unaware that a fatigued coworker has placed them in danger.
Under a no-fault system, workers are generally barred from suing their co-workers or employers. However, they can file for workers’ compensation benefits, even if the workplace accident was their own fault.
The Scope of the Fatigue Problem
Fatigue has become such a common cause of workplace injuries that the National Safety Council recently completed a study of the problem. According to the findings of this study, approximately 13 percent of all workplace accidents can be attributed to fatigue. More concerning, a staggering 97 percent of workers have at least one risk factor for fatigue, and more than 80 percent have multiple risk factors. Some industries create a pay structure which encourages workers to increase their hours and work while fatigued. One example is the trucking industry, which pays drivers by the mile – not by the hour. This is one of the many reasons why the trucking industry has such a high rate of worker fatalities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25 percent of all American workplace fatalities in 2015 occurred in the trucking industry. But it’s not just truckers. Fatigue causes accidents in many other professions as well.
Workplace accidents related to fatigue also increase when workers are subject to night shifts, swing shifts, or irregular work schedules that interfere with healthy sleep patterns. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that accident and injury rates are 18 percent higher on evening shifts, and 30 percent higher on night shifts than injury rates on day shifts. OSHA also reports that working twelve hours per day is correlated with a 37 percent increase in the risk of sustaining a workplace injury.
What Can California Workers Do to Prevent Fatigue-Related Workplace Injuries?
Some fatigue risk factors cannot be eliminated entirely. Hospitals, for example, will always need nurses to work the night shift. The workers can take certain precautions to reduce the risk of injury. For example: night nurses who have a consistent schedule and can readjust their bodies to a regular sleep cycle, are likely to be less fatigued that those nurses who only work the night shift intermittently. Employers can reduce their chances of facing a liability for a workplace accident by creating night shift schedules that allow the necessary flexibility for night shift workers to reestablish their sleep patterns.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact an experienced San Diego workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. You have the legal right to be compensated for your injuries.