Sleep is a good thing. Lack of it is NOT!

Things are a little foggy today and not because of the weather. Truth is, I only got a few hours of sleep last night and it’s taking its toll on me. Everything seems to be operating in slow motion; it’s harder to find the right words, it’s taking longer to organize my thoughts and my fingers are stumbling over all the wrong keys. Lack of sleep gets you every time.

Sitting at my desk with my trusty computer in front of me does not put me in a position where I can do too much damage. But what if I were in a factory or warehouse operating heavy machinery, or driving a forklift, or loading racks, or unloading trucks? That could – and would – be a totally different case. Lack of sleep affects working safely in a number of ways; it can reduce reaction times, motor control, decision-making ability and awareness.

In fact lack of sleep not only affects workers’ ability to perform their work safely, but can also put others in harm’s way. Lack of sleep can cause serious or even fatal accidents.

Think about this. A person awake for 20 hours performs at a level equal to someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. Would you want that person to be operating heavy machinery or driving a forklift in your facility? Not likely. According to a National Sleep Foundation study revealed that 103 million people admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Administration conservatively estimated that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue resulting in deaths, injuries and billions in monetary losses.

Yet, sleep is not generally looked upon as a priority. Most likely each of us has at one time boasted about pulling an all-nighter and still being on time for work the next day like it was some sort of badge of honor. Wrong. Anything that can compromise safety should be high on the list of things to be monitored.

Look for the signs in your employees – frequent yawning, drooping eyelids, difficulty in concentration, forgetfulness and mood swings are just a few. Educate your employees on the importance of good sleeping habits and the consequences of bad ones. Include it in your training programs and as part of a comprehensive safety program. After all, it could just save a life.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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