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Overworked and fatigued? You could be facing a workplace disaster

It seems to be a common occurrence around every workplace, a lot of your co-workers are tired and maybe frantically trying to secure their morning cup of coffee. The National Safety Council has determined that 69 percent of employees are tired at work. But what happens when tired turns into fatigue? 

Each of us are programmed to go through a 24-hour cycle and our bodies rely on specific rhythms. Basically, since birth we have been on a pattern of sleeping at night and being alert during the day. When this cycle gets interrupted, it can affect such things as your body temperature, proper digestion and the tasks you need to focus on during the day. Not being able to renew your energy through sleep can be very detrimental to your health. If your job is also physically demanding, a lack of sleep with physical exhaustion can increase the chances of a dire consequence while at work.

There are a couple of famous examples of fatigued workers causing extreme disasters. One is the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in Russia where 13-hour shifts left workers the inability to decipher increasing reactor dangers. Another example is the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska in 1989. The ship was being piloted by an extremely fatigued third mate who failed to turn the ship properly before hitting an iceberg and spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil.

The toll of fatigue?

What can fatigue do to you while on the job? Here are some things that can be experienced when fatigued:

  • Poor or no ability for decision-making – When you are overly tired, you will struggle with tasks that require intelligent thought and you can easily fail to come up with ways to accomplish complex tasks.
  • Short attention span – If you have a condensed thought process ability, you will not have the capacity to fully comprehend potentially serious situations.
  • Delayed reaction times – A tired mind will take much longer to process information and that slower reaction time could lead to dangers.
  • Fatigue can cause physical problems – When you are extremely tired, you can show signs of irritability, headaches, muscle pain and even cardiovascular disease.
  • Mini-sleeps – Extreme fatigue can lead to brief moments of sleep that you may not even realize is happening until you wake-up. If you are a worker who is monitoring a machine or is driving a truck, these types of quick moments of unconsciousness can be dangerous.

Chronic fatigue can lead to several different ailments, but you can cure your own fatigue by getting more rest. However, if you feel you have been working extended hours and have had extra demands placed on you which has caused an injury, you should speak to a compensation attorney right away.

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