Study links poor sleep to injury risk for construction workers

August 19, 2019

A Colorado State University study of construction workers found a connection between poor-quality sleep and the risk of workplace incidents and injuries, according to www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Construction workers from two public works departments in Portland, Ore., completed three surveys during a 12-month period. The data collected was part of an Oregon Healthy Workforce Center study and used to determine respondents’ self-reported sleep quality and quantity. It then was compared with subsequent reports regarding safety behavior and workplace injuries.

On average, respondents who reported more insomnia symptoms experienced more “cognitive failures” at work, such as lapses in attention, memory or action. More failures were related to an increase in minor injuries and a reduction in required and voluntary safety behaviors.

Cognitive failures included not remembering correct work procedures or whether equipment was turned off; unintentionally pressing a control switch on machines; stopping or starting the wrong machine unintentionally; and daydreaming instead of listening to a co-worker.

“Organizations, especially safety-sensitive ones like construction, should care about their employees’ sleep because it can impact the safety of the workplace and put workers at risk,” says Rebecca Brossoit, study co-author and CSU graduate student. “There’s a business case for caring about sleep.”

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