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Workers' Compensation: Fatigue & Workplace Safety

Whether it’s the result of the type of work being performed, a demanding schedule, or personal factors, fatigue in the workplace can have major consequences. That includes not only a decreased quality of work and a greater likelihood for making mistakes, but also substantial risks for workplace accidents and injuries. In fact, experts and federal regulators have noted just how serious the problem of fatigue can be when it concerns safety, and have passed laws in many industries that limit the amount of time workers can be on the job so as to protect them and others around them.

Last month, the National Safety Council released a report that showed nearly a third of reported injuries in the workplace, as well as near-misses, are contributed to by fatigued employees. Additional findings in the report also illustrated how fatigue can impact employers and other employees, and the role American culture has played in condoning fatigue and hectic work schedules. For example, half of all employers surveyed by the NSC reported that they’ve had a worker fall asleep on the job, and nearly 75% of them still don’t communicate about fatigue and rest to their employees.

Decreased productivity and higher injury rates are a major concern for both safety regulators and employers, as they can impact the lives of workers and their families financially following injuries, and hurt an employer’s bottom line. For these reasons, the NSC has worked with experts, employers, and employees to identify some of the common causes of fatigue in the workplace and how workers and their management can take steps to improve safety. A few key suggestions include:

  • Raising awareness about fatigue to make sure it is recognized as a hazard in the workplace, and addressing a culture that condones long work hours, limited opportunity for adjusting schedules, and little communication about fatigue.
  • In the workplace, employers can control a number of factors that contribute to employee fatigue, including overtime scheduling, organizing when certain tasks are performed during a shift, avoiding indefinite night shift assignments, and providing enough hours of rest (at least 12) in between shifts.
  • Rotating shifts are seen as one possible solution that can eliminate much of the hazards that may accompany chronic fatigue common in night-shift workers.
  • Varying work assignments and tasks to avoid monotonous work that can make employees more susceptible to fatigue.
  • Out of the workplace, workers can do their part to protect themselves and those around them by making sleep a priority (at least 7 to 8 hours a night), eating healthy, exercising, and improving time-management.

Even when workers and employers take steps to avoid fatigue and improve safety in the workplace, they can still suffer harm in work-related accidents, especially in jobs or industries where workers already fact elevated injury risks, such as construction. Fortunately, there are protections in place that can allow injured workers to obtain benefits they need to treat their injuries and continue meeting their financial obligations when they’re unable to work.

Workers’ Comp Attorneys Serving Chicago

At Leonard Law Group, our Chicago injury lawyers have decades of collective experience helping injured workers navigate available pathways to the compensation they need. This includes guiding clients step-by-step through the Illinois workers’ compensation process, whether it involves filing an application and helping clients obtain medical, wage supplementation, and vocational rehabilitation benefits or appealing a decision with which they did not agree. Because our firm also maintains an active personal injury practice, we’re also able to assess the cases of injured workers to help them determine if they may be eligible to pursue financial compensation for their damages, including their pain and suffering, by filing a civil third party personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Over the years, our firm has helped over 7,500 injured clients across Chicago and Illinois, and have built a reputation on the trust and respect we have earned from them. If you would like to learn how we may be of assistance after a workplace accident of your own, please contact us for a free case evaluation.

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