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NSC urges employers to address fatigue to improve safety

Workplace cultures that promote long hours and ignore fatigue create unnecessary dangers for employees, according to a report from the National Safety Council. Throughout Georgia and nationwide, poorly rested workers face a heightened risk of workplace injuries. The fatigue report from the council estimated that approximately 13 percent of on-the-job injuries happen because of tired workers. For a large company with 1,000 employees, fatigue-related injuries could translate into $1 million in losses every year due to reduced productivity and more medical expenses.

The NSC encourages employers to manage fatigue by raising awareness of the problem and making rest for workers a priority. Training programs should inform people about the hazards of fatigue, and workplace policies should recognize the scientific realities of the need for sleep.

Employees too often buy into the notion that fatigue represents laziness. Some workers might believe that fatigue does not bother them and commit themselves to long hours. A study of worker sleep habits determined that one-third of workers sleep only one to five hours on weekdays. This amount is far short of the seven to nine hours of sleep recommended for optimal functioning.

Unrelenting work schedules represent only one way that a workplace might endanger workers. Inadequate training for the operation of machinery and inconsistent compliance with safety regulations could also increase the presence of workplace hazards. Although employer negligence does not need to be proven for an injured worker to collect workers' compensation benefits, an employer might still try to block benefits to hide safety problems. The support of an attorney knowledgeable about workplace injuries could help a victim report an accident and access benefits. An attorney can manage insurance paperwork and challenge attempts to deny or decrease payment for medical care and lost wages.

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