National Sleep Awareness Week is March 6–12. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night and one in three people don’t get enough. This week is a great opportunity to fight workplace fatigue by reminding workers about the risk of tiredness and the importance of better sleep habits.
Fatigue is a dangerous state to be in because it impacts your mental alertness, which affects your judgement and response time. There is a common misconception that being tired is not a big deal, and that it can be controlled with coffee or energy drinks or by rolling down a car window or turning up the music while driving. But the reality is that fatigue is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
There are two big steps that safety professionals can take to help workers better manage fatigue: recalibrate their risk perception and provide skills to manage tiredness.
The best way to help employees learn to control fatigue is to provide them with practical guidelines and a strong understanding of the risk it presents by taking the following steps:
- Note the importance of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to establish regular sleep patterns.
- Encourage regular exercise, which makes it easier to rest at night (although exercise within a few hours of bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep).
- Outline how dangerous fatigue is by providing statistics on its dangers and by sharing stories about injuries and near misses that were caused or made worse by a lack of sleep.
- Provide human factors training that teaches workers to recognize when they’re fatigued and offers skills to reduce the risk of getting hurt as a result.
Worrying about fatigue is not something you want to lose sleep over. If employees are getting injured because they’re tired then check out this free webinar on addressing human factors like fatigue. It includes a story by SafeStart’s own Kelley Norris on how a lack of sleep almost caused a car crash—and what she’s done to prevent it from happening again.