How Does Sleep Link to Injuries?
Originally published by: Safety and Health Magazine — August 8, 2019
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Employers should prioritize efforts to help workers get a good night’s sleep, researchers from Colorado State University say after their study of construction workers found a connection between poor quality sleep and the risk of workplace incidents and injuries.
Construction workers from two public works departments in Portland, OR, completed three surveys over a 12-month period. The data collected, which was part of an Oregon Healthy Workforce Center study, was used to determine the respondents’ self-reported sleep quality and quantity, and was then compared with subsequent reports on safety behavior and workplace injuries.
Respondents who reported more insomnia symptoms, on average, experienced more “cognitive failures” – such as lapses in attention, memory or action – at work. More failures were related to an increase in minor injuries and a reduction in required and voluntary safety behaviors.
Among the cognitive failures:
- Not remembering correct work procedures or if equipment was turned off.
- Unintentionally pressing a control switch on machines.
- Stopping or starting the wrong machine unintentionally.
- Daydreaming instead of listening to a co-worker.
“Organizations, especially safety-sensitive ones like construction, should care about their employees’ sleep because it can impact the safety of the workplace and put workers at risk,” Rebecca Brossoit, study co-author and a CSU graduate student, said in a June 5 press release. “There’s a business case for caring about sleep.”