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National Safety Council – Fatigue Initiative

About 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to sleep problems, according to a study published in 2014 in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews [1]. In fact, nearly 38% of the U.S. workforce is sleep deprived [2] – resulting in decreased attention to the job at hand. In July 2016, National Safety Council adopted workplace fatigue as its newest strategic initiative to help reduce injuries resulting from fatigue in the workplace through education and engagement. Addressing fatigue within the workplace is a natural fit for the Council, both as a membership organization and an organization who has successfully advanced health and safety in the workplace for over 100 years.

We are spending our first year on the initiative building a strong foundation by collecting information and building partnerships. We recently hosted a Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel of the nation’s top experts and stakeholders to discuss fatigue – identifying gaps, opportunities and potential partnerships. One common theme from the Panel was the desire for input from small- and medium-sized employers on their needs for fatigue risk management policies and programs and technological solutions to fatigue-related risks. Panel members also expressed a need for a repository of best practices for fatigue risk countermeasures that employers could easily access and implement. We will take the information collected at the Panel and use it to inform our strategic planning. But the Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel is only the first step in many conversations we will have with experts in the field of fatigue. Panel members will be recruited to join an advisory board where we will continue the conversations on gaps, opportunities and potential partnerships.

We will be conducting a survey on the American worker’s attitudes toward and knowledge of fatigue on the roads and in the workplace. We hope to gauge the level of awareness among the working population and identify knowledge gaps. In the late Spring we will be hosting an educational webinar to provide information to employers on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and how they can prevent fatigue-related injuries in their worksite. We will also be introducing a fatigue cost calculator to measure the economic impact of fatigue on employers.

Beginning this Summer, we will formally launch with an education campaign for both employers and employees. The educational resources, such as white papers and infographics, will provide information around the cost, causes and consequences of workplace fatigue as well as best practices to getting restorative rest. We will also include a policy kit to help employers implement best practice policies to prevent or mitigate the effects of fatigue in their workplaces.

Most importantly, because National Safety Council is committed to the safety of our employees, we will be developing internal training and education and implementing fatigue risk management policies and programs.

To reach our vision of eliminating preventable deaths, it is imperative we address fatigue risk in the workplace. National Safety Council is dedicated to encouraging employers to learn about fatigue in the workplace, and supports the implementation of science-based fatigue risk management systems to mitigate the injury-risk caused by fatigue.


Emily Whitcomb. Sr. Program Manager – Fatigue Initiative. National Safety Council.

[1] Uehli, K., Mehta, A. J., Miedinger, D., Hug, K., Schindler, C., Holsboer-trachsler, E., … Künzli, N. (2014). Sleep problems and work injuries: A systematic review and meta- analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 18(1), 61-73.

[2] Yong, L. C., Li, J., & Calvert, G. M. (2016). Sleep-related problems in the US working population: prevalence and association with shiftwork status. Occupational and environmental medicine, oemed-2016.

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