Worker Fatigue: The Often-Overlooked Factor In Workplace Injuries

Worker fatigue is a significant and often overlooked factor in workplace injuries. Fatigue can impair a worker’s ability to perform their job safely and effectively, increase the risk of accidents, and lead to more severe injuries when accidents do occur.

Fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, including long work hours, physically demanding work, lack of sleep, and mental and emotional stress. Workers in certain industries, such as healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing, are particularly vulnerable to fatigue due to the nature of their work and the demands placed on them.

The effects of fatigue on worker safety and health are well documented. Fatigue can impair a worker’s reaction time, coordination, and judgment, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Studies have shown that fatigued workers are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other types of workplace accidents.

Despite the known risks of fatigue, it often goes overlooked in workers’ compensation claims. Workers may not recognize the role that fatigue played in their injury, or may be hesitant to report fatigue-related issues to their employer or healthcare provider. Employers may also fail to recognize the signs of worker fatigue, or may not take sufficient steps to address the problem.

Know Your Types of Worker Fatigue

There are several types of worker fatigue, which can impact employees in different ways. Here are some of the most common types of worker fatigue:

  1. Physical fatigue: This type of fatigue is caused by physical exertion and can result in a feeling of exhaustion or muscle weakness. It is often experienced by workers in manual labor jobs or those who perform physically demanding tasks.
  2. Mental fatigue: This type of fatigue is caused by prolonged periods of mental activity, such as problem-solving or decision-making. It can result in decreased concentration and cognitive functioning, making it difficult to perform tasks effectively.
  3. Emotional fatigue: This type of fatigue is caused by prolonged periods of emotional stress, such as dealing with difficult customers or coworkers. It can result in feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and decreased motivation.
  4. Chronic fatigue: This type of fatigue is long-term and persistent, often resulting from medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome or sleep disorders.
  5. Acute fatigue: This type of fatigue is short-term and can result from a lack of sleep, irregular work schedules, or other factors that disrupt the body’s natural sleep patterns.

Recent Studies

Worker fatigue is a growing concern in the workplace, and the statistics surrounding this issue are alarming. According to the National Safety Council, up to 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to worker fatigue. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that shift workers are at a higher risk for sleep-related accidents and injuries, highlighting the importance of addressing this issue in industries that require non-traditional work schedules.

Studies have also shown that worker fatigue can have a significant impact on productivity, quality of work, and overall health. A survey by the National Safety Council found that 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, which can lead to decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that workers who are fatigued are more likely to be absent from work and have higher healthcare costs.

The cost of worker fatigue is also significant. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, worker fatigue costs employers $136 billion per year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity. Despite these alarming statistics, only 72% of employers view worker fatigue as a safety issue, compared to 97% of workers who believe it is a safety concern.

How To Avoid Workers Fatigue

There are several strategies that employees can use to avoid worker fatigue and reduce the risk of workplace injuries:

  1. Prioritize rest and recovery: Adequate rest is essential for reducing the risk of worker fatigue. Employees should aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night and take regular breaks throughout the workday to rest and recharge.
  2. Practice good sleep hygiene: Good sleep hygiene practices can help employees get better quality sleep and reduce the risk of fatigue. This includes establishing a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.
  3. Take breaks: Taking regular breaks throughout the workday can help employees recharge and reduce the risk of fatigue. Employers should encourage workers to take short, frequent breaks to stretch, walk around, or engage in other activities that promote relaxation.
  4. Use ergonomic equipment: Ergonomic equipment can help reduce the physical strain of repetitive or physically demanding tasks, reducing the risk of fatigue and injury. Employers should provide ergonomic workstations and equipment to help employees work comfortably and safely.
  5. Manage stress: Workplace stress can contribute to fatigue and increase the risk of workplace injuries. Employees should take steps to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques or seeking support from a mental health professional.
  6. Stay hydrated and nourished: Drinking enough water and eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help employees maintain energy and reduce the risk of fatigue.
  7. Speak up: If employees feel overwhelmed, tired, or fatigued, they should speak up and communicate their needs to their employer. Employers can work with employees to adjust their workload or schedule, provide additional support, or make other accommodations to reduce the risk of worker fatigue and injury.

What To Do If You Get Hurt From Workers Fatigue 

If you get hurt as a result of worker fatigue in the workplace, it is important to take action right away. Here are the steps you should take to ensure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to:

  1. Report the injury: Report your injury to your supervisor or HR representative immediately. Provide details about the accident, including when and how it happened. It is important to report the injury as soon as possible to ensure that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  2. Seek medical attention: Seek medical attention right away, even if you feel that your injury is minor. Your health and safety should be your top priority, and a medical professional can assess the extent of your injury and provide necessary treatment.
  3. Document the injury: Keep detailed records of your injury, including the date and time of the incident, any medical treatment you receive, and any time you miss from work as a result of your injury.
  4. File a workers’ compensation claim: If your injury was caused by worker fatigue in the workplace, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To file a claim, contact your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier or speak with an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation.
  5. Follow up: Stay in touch with your employer and workers’ compensation carrier to ensure that your claim is being processed and that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Be sure to attend all medical appointments and follow your doctor’s orders for recovery.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your injury is properly documented and that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.


At the end of the day, workers fatigue can be an extremely serious problem that will catch up to an individual if not addressed. If you or someone you know has suffered any sort of injuries while on the job we are here to help! Everyone deserves representation in order to receive the benefits they deserve. Call or message us at Solov & Teitell Law Offices so we can help! (213) 380 – 9310

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