24/7 operations present special safety challenges, and risks of employee inattention are increased.
The cumulative effect of night work and extended hours can lead to fatigue-impaired employees unless proactive steps are taken to reduce the risk. Studies have clearly linked fatigue to increases in human error, accidents, injuries, and inferior performance. In fact, one study found that fatigued workers cost U.S. employers more than $136 billion per year in lost productivity.
In addition, several studies have confirmed that fatigue impairment can produce a similar impairment as alcohol in terms of logical reasoning, concentration, information processing, judgment, hand-eye coordination, and reaction times. Quite simply, as people perform without sufficient rest, the likelihood of errors and accidents increases.
Night Shift Errors
When we are tired, we are more prone to making mistakes. People are most likely to make mistakes and cause production errors in the pre-dawn “window of circadian low.” Errors of inattention can be costly or even deadly. Performance and safety can be especially compromised on the night shift because alertness is inherently lower at night, and because the night shift can affect quantity and quality of sleep and alertness as well.
Impaired workers cause preventable injuries, damage equipment, and hurt productivity. At CIRCADIAN, we can help you predict and prevent potential accidents.
24/7 operations present special safety challenges, and risks of employee inattention are increased. Seventy to eighty percent (70-80%) of transportation accidents are the result of human error according to the US Department of Transportation. While alcohol and drug abuse have long been recognized as leading causes of accidents, increasing attention in recent years has been paid to the role of fatigue caused by sleep deprivation in our non-stop 24/7 economy. While motor vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States, certainly the risk of employee inattention is present in all realms of extended hours operations.
Unlike alcohol or drugs, which can be detected by biochemical assay, fatigue is harder to prove as a cause of accidents on the highway, or in the workplace -- because there is no chemical test. Despite this limitation, fatigue has been increasingly claimed as the primary cause of many major accidents. This has resulted in substantial judgments when employers are held responsible for imposing a work schedule, or overtime shifts that induced fatigue and human error.
- Work hours and extended time without sleep create a vulnerability to lawsuits and punitive damages when accidents occur.
- Violations of Hours of Service Regulations, whether minor or more substantive, create a potential of increased exposure for companies.
- The presence of underlying medical conditions may increase or mitigate liability for one or both parties to a lawsuit
How CIRCADIAN® can help you
The CIRCADIAN team is led by former Harvard professor Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, one of the world’s leading experts on human factors in transportation and industrial operations. At CIRCADIAN, we can help successfully defend against spurious claims of fatigue. We can provide world-class scientific expertise for assessing the contribution of fatigue as a factor in an accident. We also can deliver an objective analysis of fatigue risk.
- Fatigue Risk Management Systems. CIRCADIAN® has 30 years of experience in developing and implementing fatigue risk management systems (FRMS). An FRMS is a data-driven, risk-informed, safety performance-based proactive program to mitigate the risks of fatigue in 24/7 operations.
- Training: Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle. This on-site training program provides critical information to help employees deal with the challenges of working shiftwork, especially the night shift. Training includes information on fatigue, alertness, sleep, nutrition, health, family/social life and more.
- Shift Schedule Optimization. By collaborating with employees, unions, and management, CIRCADIAN develops schedule options that meet the business needs, satisfy worker preferences, and are compatible with human physiology to promote health, safety, and alertness.
- Staffing Level Analysis. The optimal staffing level can be determined by a CIRCADIAN algorithm that provides a step-by-step analysis of the essential positions to be filled on each shift.
- 24/7 Workplace Evaluation and Design. By incorporating specific design features, including lighting, sound, temperature, and ergonomic principles into your facility, employee alertness can be maximized at any time of the day or night.