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Worker Fatigue Costs U.S. Economy More than $400 Billion Annually

Sandy Smith

Fatigue not only hurts employees’ wellbeing and safety, but it also carries a significant price tag. Fatigue costs the U.S. economy more than $400 billion annually.

With 97 percent of U.S. employees reporting at least one risk factor for fatigue, the National Safety Council and its Campbell Institute contend that employers must address the issue of fatigue and its impact on the workplace and workforce.

According to National Safety Council research, 90 percent of America’s employers have been negatively impacted by tired employees. Forty-three percent of employees admit they may be too tired to function safely at work. With fatigue becoming an increasingly common workplace hazard, the National Safety Council is calling on all employers to implement comprehensive programs – known as fatigue risk management systems – that can help prevent the roughly 13 percent of workplace injuries attributable to sleep problems.

The NSC has outlined key elements of a fatigue risk management system in its paper Managing Fatigue: Developing an Effective Fatigue Risk Management SystemAnother report from the Campbell Institute – the center for EHS excellence at the National Safety Council – details results from a pilot study conducted among world class safety organizations to assess worker fatigue and effective countermeasures. In Understanding Fatigue Risk: Assessment and Countermeasuresthe Campbell Institute identifies a persistent gap between how employers and employees view fatigue and makes the case for changing culture to enhance safety.

Read related articles “Wearable Technology Could Be Key to Identifying Link Between Worker Fatigue and Workplace Injuries” and “Sleep Matters: 69 Percent of Employees Are Tired at Work.”

To emphasize the importance of the issue, the NSC and the Campbell Institute gathered fatigue experts and researchers from around the globe in Seattle for a symposium that focused on eliminating fatigue-related risks in the workplace.

“In our 24/7 world, too many employees are running on empty,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager for fatigue initiatives at the National Safety Council. “Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries.”

Fatigue not only hurts employees’ wellbeing and safety, but it also carries a significant price tag. Fatigue costs the U.S. economy more than $400 billion annually. An employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year in missed workdays, lower productivity and increased healthcare due to employee fatigue.

“Even employers with state-of-the-art safety programs feel the negative effects of fatigue,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute “As employers work to eliminate risks, we encourage them to implement fatigue risk management systems and lean on the Council and the Campbell Institute for help.”

Workplace practices and policies that contribute to worker fatigue include working night shifts and overtime, a lack of time off between shifts and inadequate rest areas within the workplace for employees to take breaks.

Strong fatigue risk management systems blend employee education and training with improvements to workplace environments, culture change and data-driven programs.

Additional information about workplace fatigue is available at




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February 26, 2019 @ 12:45 PM EST Energy - Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Construction Health & Safety

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