Sleep, Safety and Workplace Fatigue: Facts You Need to Know
by Troy Schrenk
On remote sites, whether in construction or engineering, there’s extraordinary pressure to get the job done and work the shifts it takes to accomplish the goal. At the same time, more companies know they need to put fatigue management plans into place. Everyone knows sleep deprivation and the resulting fatigue can lead to accidents and low productivity; but what does that really mean, and what can employers do to address it?
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue
When we talk about the ties between sleep deprivation and lower levels of performance and productivity, what does that really mean on the job? In her white paper, Nancy H. Rothstein, The Sleep Ambassador® notes the serious toll that fatigue can take on the job site.
• Lower Productivity. Documented sleep metrics indicate a significant cost of lost productivity due to sleep deficiency and disorders.
• Higher Costs. Sleep deficiency and untreated sleep disorders can lead to consequences such as higher health care expenses, slipped schedules, and other costs and risks.
• Compromised Safety. Sleep loss and sleep disorders lead to compromised safety, a critical factor in the oil, gas, mining, and construction industries. Driving or operating equipment while being sleep deprived can be as dangerous as a 0.10% of blood alcohol concentration.
What are signs to look for? According to Safety and Health Magazine, it goes way beyond yawning.
• Poor communication
• Lack of concentration and difficulty focusing
• “Microsleeps” that intrude into waking periods.
On remote worksites with challenging conditions, it’s easy to see how these factors can contribute to accidents, delays, and an overall increase of project risk.
Housing: The Missing Puzzle Piece
So what can employers to do seriously address these risks? Here’s a very tricky fact when it comes to fatigue management plans: even the best designed plan can’t regulate sleep behaviors during rest periods or days off. Plans can help watch for the signs of fatigue, recommend shift changes, and schedule enough time off for a decent night’s sleep. But if the worker is sleeping in poor, unrestful, uncomfortable temporary housing? What if the worker is using that time off to commute long distances?
Here’s where superior workforce housing, close to the worksite and designed for optimal sleep conditions, comes into play. Better lodging for the workforce means really addressing the core issue—sleep—at the heart of fatigue management. At Target Lodging we know that good accommodations that contribute to quality sleep are essential to workforce safety, not a luxury.
We specialize in lodges that are convenient to worksites. Our rooms have individual temperature controls (vital to sleeping comfort). We’re especially proud of our Hibernator Sleep System™: pillow-top mattresses, high-thread-count sheets and overstuffed pillows.
The very real dangers of workplace fatigue and sleep deprivation aren’t always what you expect. Sometimes the signs aren’t easy to see, and there’s simply no “getting used” to sleep deprivation. Fatigue management plans can help, but at the heart of the issue is sleep. Excellent workforce housing can ensure the most critical component of fatigue management: a good night’s sleep.