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By: Michael Trufant
April 12, 2018
Workplace fatigue is silently prowling in many industries all across the U.S. resulting in decreased performance and an increase in job site accidents. Employees are simply unable to get the rest they need and are dealing with extreme exhaustion.
Operating tired is the equivalent of operating drunk, so it is common for fatigued workers to experience confusion, delayed reactions, and even fall asleep during their shifts. However, by taking the easy steps towards managing fatigue in the workplace employers can save millions and even improve the quality of life for all employees.
The Effects of Fatigue in the Workplace
The fatigue definition is simply tiredness, reduced energy, mental or physical exhaustion, or the lack of motivation. Sufferers often feel weak and always tired. Effects of fatigue include exhaustion, aches, pains, dizziness, impaired focus, sleepiness, irritability, microsleeps, and more.
Fatigue symptoms exist in most workplaces due to a variety of contributing factors. For example, fatigue is caused by both mental and physical factors, such as talking to people, lifting heavy objects, operating machinery or tools, and performing tasks to require prolonged focus.
Other factors such as long commutes, working overnight shifts, not having adequate rest during or after shifts, long hours, work environment conditions like dim lighting or noisy conditions, longer hours, also play a role in workplace fatigue.
If workers are drowsy they often cannot focus and fall behind on projects or just don’t have the energy to pay attention to safety regulations so workplace accidents and even deaths occur as a result.
An estimated 38% of the American workforce sleeps less than 7 hours a night as worker fatigue costs employers $138 billion annually in lost productivity. The majority of this production loss occurs while at work and isn’t due to missed days.
However, workers and employers don’t have to suffer. Oftentimes fatigue is caused by an underlying sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can easily be screened and treated.
Detecting and Correcting Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes repeatedly blocked during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This makes your body work harder to get the air it needs, hampering rest.
Sufferers often don’t remember waking during the night or realize they have an issue unless their partner alerts them to their snoring problem. They may wake up with a headache, feeling exhausted, and depressed.
If left untreated OSA can attribute to life-threatening health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, obesity, stroke, and more. Luckily, getting tested is easier than ever.
Forget about the hassle of heading to a sleep clinic to rest while connected to all sorts of tubes and wires. All you have to do is contact a durable medical equipment (DME) provider for an at home test.
The test will measure your pulse along with your breathing and oxygen levels to detect when and how many times your breathing stops. Then clinicians will analyze your results to determine if you have OSA and need a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device, which is 100% effective for treating sleep apnea.
Your DME will help you find the right CPAP mask to fit your lifestyle based off of your prescription. There are tons of comfortable options available. Plus, if you qualify through insurance, some medical equipment providers will contact your doctor and insurance company for you to make sure your CPAP supplies are sent directly to your home.
Our workforce needs to stand up against fatigue, the silent killer that exists in all industries. Worker fatigue is causing employees to fall behind and creating potentially dangerous job site situations, but with the help of a quick sleep apnea screening and CPAP device they can lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
Michael Trufant Industrial Markets Manager, at Aeroflow Healthcare, a national provider of durable medical equipment (DME) products and construction company programs.