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Being overworked may make you sick or leave you with injuries

United States Department of Labor (DOL) data shows that those who work irregular, extended, or long shifts may be particularly vulnerable to worker fatigue. Among the different types of workers that appear to be most impacted by fatigue in the workplace, the DOL points to those working in the transportation, hospitality and medical fields.

The DOL notes that employees who enjoy either interrupted, too little or poor quality sleep stand to have their body's circadian rhythm, or natural cycle, thrown off. If this happens, it can put the worker under unnecessary stress, adversely impact their ability to concentrate and cause them fatigue. Mental, physical and emotional problems may result, putting employees at increased risk for injuries, illnesses and even death.

As far as workplace injuries and illnesses are concerned, the DOL contends that the rates of injury among second shift workers is 18 percent higher than it is for those working on a first shift instead. Workers who are scheduled to work during a third shift are 30 percent more likely to suffer an injury while at work than their first shift counterparts.

Those who spend 12 or more hours a day at work are at least 37 percent more likely to suffer an injury or illness on the job than their colleagues that work far shorter shifts. A 2005 DOL study conducted among nearly 3,000 resident physicians showed that, as extended shift workers, they were 16 percent more likely to crash as they headed home than others.

Explosions at industrial work sites including at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and the British Petroleum oil refinery were later found to have been caused by worker fatigue. An ill-fated 2009 flight of a Colgan Air passenger airplane and the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle were attributed to either pilot or commander fatigue as well.

Tired medical workers tend to need to stick patients with needles more often, putting staff at a higher risk of exposure to potentially harmful bloodborne pathogens and other bodily fluids.

If you've suffered an injury or illness in the workplace, brought about by fatigue, then a Los Lunas workers' compensation attorney can advise you of your right to recover damages in your case.

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