Employers Waking Up to Costs of Employees Falling Asleep on the Job

An employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year in missed workdays, lower productivity and increased healthcare due to employee fatigue, according to a new survey.

About one-third of all employers report employee injuries and near-misses due to worker fatigue, the National Safety Council survey also found. Half said they have had employees fall asleep on the job.

The survey report, Fatigue in the Workplace: Risky Employer Practices, says that 13 percent of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, a dangerous byproduct of personal risk factors and a society that operates 24 hours a day.

The report identifies the workplace practices and policies that are contributing to worker fatigue such as night shift and overtime scheduling, a lack of time-off between shifts and inadequate rest areas within the workplace for employees to take breaks.

“This survey shows that employers are waking up to a hidden workplace hazard – too many employees are running on empty,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries.”

Employers can calculate the costs of fatigue with the NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator. According to the calculator, fatigue could cost a California agricultural business with 100 employees more than $130,000 a year, including 128 days of absenteeism. A New York construction company with 200 workers could lose $315,000 a year, including $61,00 due to absenteeism. Fatigue could cost a Texas trucking firm with 25 employees about $30,000 a year including 73 days of lost productivity. And a Florida farm with 1,000 employees could be losing more than $1.4 million due to fatigue, including $560,000 in extra healthcare costs.

Other findings in the report include: