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The economic impacts of workplace drowsiness

The level of sleep U.S. workers are getting is far from an insignificant issue. For one, workers being sleepy on the job can have major safety implications. Also, workers getting insufficient sleep can have major economic ramifications.

The major scope of the impacts drowsiness at work can have on the U.S. economy is underscored in a recent report. The report looked at the economic effects of workers not getting enough sleep in five countries. The U.S. was among these countries. The other four were Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The report estimated that the U.S., annually, sees up to $411 billion in economic losses and around 1.2 million lost working days as a result of workers not getting sufficient sleep. In raw numbers, the U.S. totals far surpassed those in the other four countries the report looked at in both worker-drowsiness-related economic losses and lost days of work. Its economic loss total was nearly three times as much as the next closest total and its days lost total was around double that of the next closest (in both cases the next closest total came from Japan).

In addition to having the potential for substantial overall economic impacts, drowsiness at work can also have big economic impacts on individual businesses. For one, it could lead to workplace accidents at a business that result in workers' comp claims being filed. Such claims could have major financial ramifications for a business. Skilled workers’ comp defense attorneys understand the major impacts that what happens in workers' comp cases can have for businesses and insurers and can help businesses and insurers with defending their interests when such cases come up.

Given the major problems worker drowsiness could raise, businesses may want to take steps to encourage their workers to get enough sleep and to create a work environment aimed at promoting alertness and proper rest among workers. What sorts of steps do you think are particularly helpful on this front?

Source: Safety+Health, “‘Massive’ effects: New report says sleepy workers cost U.S. economy up to $411B annually,” Dec. 6, 2016

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