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NIOSH Study: Night Warehouse Workers Don't Get Enough Sleep

To some extent, the risk of workplace injury is always present. However, certain factors can increase this risk, making workplaces more dangerous than they otherwise would be.

Workers have a much greater chance of encountering on-the-job injury when either they or their colleagues are overtired. Sleep-deprived workers are known to be less effective at their jobs and have a higher likelihood of making mistakes that result in workplace injuries or accidents.

A new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investigated the sleep habits of workers in certain sectors. Overall, it found that more than 30 percent of the U.S. adult civilian workforce reported getting less than six hours of sleep per night. As a benchmark, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for healthy adults.

Unsurprisingly, night-shift workers were found to have poorer sleep habits than their day-shift counterparts. Almost 70 percent of night-shift transportation and warehouse workers reported getting insufficient sleep. Night-shift health care employees and social workers came in second, with over 52 percent reporting less than seven hours of sleep on the average night.

High rates of insufficient sleep were also found in the mining, utility and public administration sectors.

By contrast, employees in the finance, insurance, education, agriculture and forestry industries were found to be the most well-rested.

Although worker drowsiness can play a role in contributing to workplace accidents, it is important to note that Colorado workers' compensation operates on a no-fault system. Injured workers are entitled to receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Too Little Sleep Common for Night Warehousing, Transport Workers," May 8, 2012.

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