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Workplace injuries and illnesses can result from fatigue

According to the American Safety Council, the effect of fatigue on people is similar to that of alcohol. It underscores the dangers that could be created by sleep-deprived workers nationwide, including in Oklahoma. Major industrial catastrophes have been linked to mistakes made by fatigued workers. Thousands of fatal workplace injuries have resulted from scheduling workers for weeks of extended shifts with no time to catch up on lost sleep.

Research shows that fatigue impairs workers' motor skills, limiting their responses in emergencies. Further results from studies show that sleep deprivation could lead to risky behavior and impulsive decision-making, while it causes cognitive impairment. Retaining new information, and processing it in situations that require workers to solve intricate problems becomes almost impossible when those workers are fatigued.

Stress levels can be adversely affected if workers do not get at least seven hours of sleep per night, and tension at home could be a secondary cause for workplace accidents. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause chronic fatigue that could lead to other health problems. Obesity, heart disease, depression, digestion problems, sleep disorders, and reproductive problems are all known to result from chronic fatigue. It could even cause cancer and compromise the immune system.

Oklahoma workers who are suffering the consequences of extended periods of shift work might end up suffering serious workplace injuries or occupational illnesses. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system covers medical expenses and lost wages of injured workers. The surviving family members of those who did not survive such incidents might be eligible for death benefits. Legal counsel can assist with the navigation of benefits claims.

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