Work fa­tigue a se­ri­ous risk

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - HEALTHY LIVING | LIFE - — Phoebe Loomes

TIRED work­ers are as im­paired as drunk driv­ers and are a dan­ger to them­selves and oth­ers, according to a new gov­ern­ment in­quiry.

The fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sleep health in the work­place found shifts af­fect­ing reg­u­lar sleep are dan­ger­ous and costly to the econ­omy, mak­ing em­ploy­ees less pro­duc­tive and at greater risk of ac­ci­dents, in­juries and mis­takes.

It also found pro­fes­sion­als with “safety-crit­i­cal” jobs, car­ry­ing out du­ties with ac­cu­racy and safety, have pre­sented as be­ing less rested, more of­ten. This is be­cause they are more likely to do un­usual shifts or be “on call”.

The Bed­time Read­ing in­quiry says shift work is linked to con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with poor sleep, in­clud­ing obe­sity, sleep dis­or­ders, men­tal health con­di­tions and can­cer.

It com­pared be­ing tired with hav­ing a blood-al­co­hol read­ing of 0.05, and said 23 per cent of all car ac­ci­dents on Vic­to­rian roads were caused by peo­ple who hadn’t had enough sleep.

Cer­tain types of work, which re­quire high lev­els of ac­cu­racy and con­cen­tra­tion, also use shift work as well as night shifts, long shifts and fly-in-fly-out work that leave work­ers more prone to ac­ci­dents due to tired­ness.

Jobs in the health sec­tor that re­quire work­ers to be “on call” for long pe­ri­ods are also likely to leave them af­fected by fa­tigue.

All these types of ros­ter­ing were found to “im­pact neg­a­tively on sleep du­ra­tion and qual­ity”.

These type of work­ers can in­clude “oc­cu­pa­tional driv­ers, emer­gency ser­vices, health care work­ers, and ma­chin­ery op­er­a­tors,” according to the study.

Truck­ies were also flagged in the in­quiry, with some driv­ers in Western Aus­tralia found to be work­ing 17 hours straight, tak­ing few breaks.

“Be­ing awake for 17 hours is the equiv­a­lent of be­ing in­tox­i­cated at 0.05 per cent,” sleep re­searcher Dr Ian Du­ni­can said.

Work­ers who are tired have a

50 per cent risk of oc­cu­pa­tional in­jury, ab­sen­teeism and er­ror or safety vi­o­la­tion.

Of these at-risk in­di­vid­u­als, up to 45 per cent work in safety- sen­si­tive jobs such as law en­force­ment or pub­lic or com­mer­cial trans­port.

The study as­so­ciates a lack of sleep with im­paired per­for­mance in the work­place and says not get­ting enough sleep leads to work­ers be­ing less ef­fi­cient on the job. It also leads to peo­ple call­ing in sick.

The fed­eral in­quiry has called on the gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion on the ma­jor rec­om­men­da­tion that sleep be con­sid­ered a “third pil­lar” of healthy liv­ing along with diet and ex­er­cise.

PHOTO: IS­TOCK

SLEEP-IM­PAIRED: Work­ers who are tired have a 50 per cent risk of oc­cu­pa­tional in­jury, ab­sen­teeism and er­ror or safety vi­o­la­tion.

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