Fatigue is a major factor in lost productivity and reduction in safety. The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, home, on the road, and in the community through research, education, and advocacy. They have found that more than 43 percent of workers are sleep-deprived. Night shift and rotating shift workers are at particular risk of sleep-deprivation.
National Safety Council research estimates that reduced productivity caused by fatigue costs employers over a thousand dollars per employee each year. It estimates that fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $1 billion a year in health costs related to work injuries. It is worthwhile to find a way to prevent these losses.
It may be understood that someone who is tired or exhausted works less efficiently and is more prone to making mistakes and getting injured. However, trying to measure fatigue and avoid it as a means to prevent loss is a new concept. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has a foundation that funds research into ways to improve worker safety. It recently released results of a study it funded to find ways to detect workers’ performance.
The research used sensors to gather data. Workers were fitted with wrist, hip, and ankle sensors while performing tasks typically performed by manufacturing workers. These included tasks including assembly, stocking, and remaining in a static position. The subjects worked continuously for three hours. The study examined the data to attempt to identify levels of fatigue.
The study showed changes in how the tasks were performed as the subjects got fatigued. According to one of the researchers, understanding how fatigue affects worker safety helps pinpoint problems, which is a first step to identifying solutions. The study concluded that measuring performance using the sensors can be used in detecting fatigue before it becomes a problem. Early interventions such as better-timed breaks or more breaks could be used to avoid fatigue-related injuries.
The sensors might also be helpful in performing ergonomics evaluations of the workplace. These studies examine body position and work station layout in order to identify inefficiencies and unnecessary strains to the body related to various work tasks. It is possible that the sensors could better quantify mechanics of how workers do their jobs and whether the workplace setup introduces unnecessary strain or difficult positions.
The result of an ergonomics evaluation can be engineering fixes to reduce ineffective work station design. The result could be to eliminate difficult postures or to reduce unnecessary lifting. Findings could also result in better targeted training programs to teach workers safe lifting and other body mechanics techniques to reduce the chance of overexertion and injury. Researchers are hopeful that use of sensors and the data they collect can be used to reduce the incidence of injuries from fatigue.
If you have been injured on the job, you probably have a lot of questions about what should happen next. Our experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers have successfully represented injured workers across South Carolina. We can explain the Workers’ Compensation system and help you file a claim. Contact us online or call 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced work injury lawyer atChappell Smith & Arden, P.A.
We represent injured workers throughout South Carolina, including those in the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.