According to findings published in The National Law Review, today’s workplace culture rewards fatigue or, at the very least, tolerates it. This is especially true in high-performance cultures in which employees view exhaustion as a sign of weakness or even sheer laziness. In an effort to get more done and appease higher-ups, workers today put in longer hours and push their feelings of fatigue to the side, a phenomenon that could have disastrous consequences for employees and employers alike.
Additional findings estimate that approximately 13% of workplace injuries are the result of on-the-job fatigue. These injuries cause an economic impact of $400 billion. The National Safety Council estimates that employers with 1,000 workers incur a loss of more than $1 million a year due to fatigue-related workplace injuries alone.
Any person in any industry can suffer from workplace fatigue. However, some workers are more susceptible than others, according to the United States Department of Labor. For instance, individuals who put in long hours or work irregular or extended shifts have an increased risk for physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Exhaustion often results in increased stress levels of reduced concentration, both of which can lead to mistakes. Industries that see the most impact from on-the-job fatigue include law enforcement, military, construction, transportation, health care, emergency response, oil and gas and hospitality.
The negative effects of workplace fatigue are clear. For instance, injury and accident rates are 18% and 30% higher during evening and night shifts than they are during day shifts. Individuals who work for 12 or more hours a day have a 37% increased risk of injury. One study of medical residents showed that those who worked extended shifts were 16% more likely to get in a car crash on the way home than peers who worked a normal, eight-hour shift.