According to a new survey by the National Safety Council (NSC), 97% of trucking, rail, air and other transportation-related company employers are worried about employee fatigue.
The NSC report, Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks and Recommendations, summarizes the results of two national surveys, one of employers and one of employees, the latter being based on probability. The report highlights findings from the construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities sectors, all industries that tend to use shift work, which commonly leads to fatigue. Overall, the NSC survey found that 69% of workers are tired at work.
In the transportation sector, 100% of employers state that fatigue is a safety issue, while only 73% of employees believe so. Only 70% of employees reported feeling tired at work. This is a familiar refrain on the road and bridge industry, and has received national attention regarding long-haul trucking.
“Tired employees are less effective and more likely to miss work, creating a drag on productivity. Importantly for safety critical industries, fatigued employees are also more likely to make mistakes that cause incidents and injuries,” the report noted.
Transportation employees who reported at least one risk factor for fatigue identified sleep loss (48%) and long shifts (42%) as causes.
NSC pointed to shift work, such as rotating schedules, early morning or irregular shifts, as a culprit in upsetting the body’s internal clock. Returning to work with less than 12 hours off between shifts and working shifts lasting longer than 10 hours, or weeks of more than 50 hours, are also contributing factors.
In transportation, 94% of employees reported the existence of two or more risk factors for fatigue in their work, while 86% cited the demands of their job and 64% pointed to high-risk hours.