Employers must grapple with numerous challenges that impact workplace productivity and the wellbeing of their employees. One factor that is becoming increasingly important to employers is workplace fatigue.
Many adult Americans have difficulty getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. According to one NSC survey, 43% of Americans reported getting less than seven hours of sleep a night. In fact, research shows that losing even two hours of sleep from the recommended eight has an effect similar to drinking two to three beers. This level of impairment would never be acceptable in the workplace.
Implementing Safety Measures
Sleep loss is a genuine impairment that employers need to take seriously throughout the year. To reduce the effects of fatigue among workers, employers are starting to implement proactive measures. For example, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company started a new program to address fatigue caused by erratic shifts that cover every minute of the day and every day of the year.
Alyeska developed new policies that aligned with its existing risk mitigation and hours-of-work policies. The company followed up with health and wellness initiatives, including:
- Medical screenings
- Sleep questionnaires
- Diet counseling for employees and their families
The company also regularly runs employee education courses and asks for feedback and program assessment on a continuing basis. The program has become a crucial part of Alyeska’s company culture with management and employees working together with towards the goal of reducing the effects of fatigue on both workplace and personal life.
We live in a 24/7 world where showing up to work fatigued is treated as a badge of honor. However, we need to embrace the knowledge that getting enough sleep allows us to be safer, alert, and more productive at work.