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Increased risk of injury for workers with sleep apnea

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2016 | Workplace Injuries

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that many New Jersey workers have. It causes the airways to become blocked during the night, waking the sufferer multiple times. A Canadian study of more than 1,200 sleep clinic patients suggests that sleep apnea could result in a higher risk of a workplace injury during the day. Those with the condition were found twice as likely as the control group to be injured at work and three times more likely to suffer an injury related to a lack of vigilance or inattentiveness.

People with sleep apnea may not remember waking up during the night, but they tend to get fragmented sleep that is not as restful as it should be. Those with the condition often feel tired during the daytime, and researchers believe that the fatigue is what leads to the higher rate of accidents. It is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and most are undiagnosed.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes the airway to collapse during sleep. The resulting period of deep breathing wakes the sleeper with a sudden cough, gasp or snore. This activity disrupts the brain’s sleep cycle, leading to daytime fatigue. The Canadian study found that the severity of sleep apnea did not affect the likelihood of workplace injury among participants. One study leader suggested that workplaces might screen workers for sleep apnea when hiring in high-risk work areas.

On-the-job injuries can be attributed to many factors, However, in most cases, even if the accident was caused by the victim’s negligence, workers’ compensation may be available. A worker who is injured due to fatigue may want to have the assistance of an attorney when the claim is being prepared.