Fox & Farley, Attorneys at Law

Increased injuries reported after time change

As some workers in Tennessee know, sleep deprivation affects a worker’s ability to perform hazardous work. It also affects the worker’s ability to concentrate and stay focused. While sleep loss happens for many reasons, it occurs yearly when time is changed to daylight saving time.

Injury data collected from 1983 to 2006 was used to document the incidence of work-related injuries on the day following the annual time change. The number of injuries reported on that Monday increased by 5.7 percent as compared to other days. This coincided with sleep deprivation of about 40 minutes. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the injuries led to a higher number of lost days at work.

The time needed to readjust to the loss of sleep takes at least a few days, as reported by a psychology journal. One way to decrease the number of accidents might be to delay the start of the workday by 45 minutes on the two days following that Monday and slowly return to the usual starting time. Work that is deemed hazardous might be put off until this readjustment period has passed. If work cannot be put off, taking additional safety steps might be useful.

Taking proactive steps may decrease the number of accidents related to sleep loss. Since this phenomenon is documented by data, employers may wish to take this into consideration when assigning hazardous tasks.

When a worker is injured in the workplace, whether it is due to the performance of hazardous tasks while sleep deprived or other reasons, the worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Speaking with an attorney to determine how to apply for workers’ compensation and to see if he or she is eligible may be beneficial.

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