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NSC survey raises concerns about fatigue in high-risk jobs

New Jersey residents who work in the manufacturing, utilities, construction or transportation industry will want to know the results of a recent survey from the National Safety Council. It turns out that shift workers in these four safety-critical industries are at the highest risk for job-related fatigue. In all, 69 percent of employees reported feeling tired at work.

Many of those surveyed understood what the risk factors of fatigue were. For example, 97 percent of workers in transportation did, citing sleep loss at 48 percent and long shifts at 42 percent as the most common factors. Among those in construction, 100 percent reported experiencing at least one risk factor.

At the same time, the survey revealed a gap in understanding between employers and employees. Ninety percent of employers understood the impact of job-related fatigue while only 72 percent of the latter saw it as a safety concern. This could mean that workers, by ignoring their own fatigue symptoms, are becoming desensitized to the resulting dangers. Employers should therefore provide better training on the causes and consequences of fatigue.

Fatigue is one of the symptoms of work-related stress; others include burnout and chronic medical conditions like anxiety and depression. It can lead to high absenteeism, lost productivity, which totals $450 billion to $550 billion annually, and the need for employee observation in the wake of safety incidents.

Injured workers might still be covered for their medical expenses and for a portion of the income they lose during their physical recovery. They have to file a workers' compensation claim although it is advisable to do so with a lawyer. Medical experts may be able to show that the reported injuries are all work-related, and the lawyer may prepare an appeal if the claim is denied. The lawyer might also explain the pros and cons of lump-sum settlements.

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