Why Sleep Is Important for Workplace Safety – and How to Encourage It

poor sleep has worker tired and asleep on job


Sleep is not only important for overall energy level at work, but essential for our overall health condition. Poor sleep habits can lead to blood pressure problems, which in turn can lead to a number of health issues. In this issue we’ll be looking at sleep, why it matters for workplace safety, and how to encourage all your staff to get a good night’s sleep.

Focus on Safety

A worker’s body needs to slow down and rest to keep the heart healthy. A well-rested body is linked to a healthy heart, strong immune system and reduced levels of stress. Sleep is important for health and the link between sleep and safety is clearly important as well.

man can't get god night's sleepWhen a worker is well rested, they are more alert and less likely to make mistakes that could result in an accident. Lack of sleep impacts a person’s cognitive functions, which can mean lack of focus, reduced attention to detail and less than optimal decision making. The workplace demands attention on work tasks, but also demands a worker’s attention to potential safety issues while on the job. A worker’s daily assignments and safety awareness can be easily impaired when they are not well rested.

Poor sleep and low energy at work can lead to “cutting corners,” taking safety risks that result in accidents. When considering a job that requires operating machinery or a vehicle, we know how essential focus is for safety. The same focus requirement applies to many others and their respective job functions. Thus lack of sleep is a well-known cause of work-related injuries.

Be a Healthy Sleep Coach

A rested and alert worker is less likely to be injured or miss work due to illness. Business owners, supervisors and others concerned with optimizing productivity would do well to strongly encourage their workers get the rest and sleep that they need. A well-rested employee is far more productive, far less likely to experience burnout, and much less prone to work place accidents. Work place accidents can lead to secondary impacts such as low morale and higher employee turnover rates. Encourage a good night’s sleep and improve the health of your employees and your business at the same time.

The Encouragement Approach

workers at construction siteWhat are some things managers can do to encourage good sleep and improve workplace safety?

First make sure to inform your employees of the need for good sleep and other healthy habits at every practical opportunity, such as safety meetings and safety training sessions. Training is an essential component of all safety programs and important guidance on healthy sleep should be included in the overall health and safety plan. Are your workers well informed about your company’s medical plan and available assistance with sleep-related health issues?

Next, it is crucial to make sure management is not part of the problem. Are there extended overtime demands on staff that could be better resolved with new or temporary staff? Are workers frequently on rotating day and night shifts? Cyclical Shift changes on a frequent basis causes constant disruption in a person’s circadian rhythm. By constantly having to switch between sleeping during the day, and sleeping at night, shift workers often become lighter sleepers and get an average of 2-3 hours less restful sleep. 

Promoting a Culture of Workplace Safety

By encouraging your team to get a good night’s sleep, the health of your employees and your business will both improve.

If you have more questions about workplace safety or are interested in safety training classes, contact us today.

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