NIOSH has put together a “Quick Tips for Truck Drivers” publication that is available for free on their website.
Knowing the rigors and the long hours that truck drivers have to put in, NIOSH put this publication together to help truck drivers understand when they are too sleepy to be driving as well as understanding the importance of sleep and the ramifications of driving without getting enough of it.
Especially stressed in this pamphlet is a section that outlines how to get good sleep in order to be alert while driving.
You can download the publications on the CDC website here.
You have random drug tests to ensure a drug-free workplace because a worker on drugs is a danger, not only to himself but to everyone else.
You wouldn’t dream of allowing an employee to come to work smelling of alcohol.
Problem is there’s one performance inhibitor that you can’t test for and for which there are no laws. We’re speaking, of course, of sleep-deprivation.
Just going to bed 1.5 hrs later than normal for a single night can reduce your employees’ alertness by up to 32% (Check out these and other stats on Webmd.com)
Most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night but studies have shown that most of us try to function on a lot less. Here’s where things get murky… because most of us don’t get enough sleep, we get used to functioning at sub-par levels and make our reduced state the norm. Because our mental state has been compromised by lack of sleep we don’t even think that we aren’t functioning properly and so believe that we are actually doing fine. Contrary to what you may believe your body does not “get use to” less sleep, it’s just your impaired function that believes it does.
What are some of the other results of not getting enough sleep?
- Increased risk of depression
- A weakened immune system
- Memory problems
- Morning Headaches
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Elevated blood pressure
- Mood swings and irritability
- Weight gain
- Hindered eyesight/ability to focus
- Decreased physical ability and lack of energy
Sounds like the side effects of most illicit drugs that you are testing your employees for doesn’t it? The scary thing is that, according to statistics, this problem affects more than half of your work force.
So what can be done? You obviously can’t go tuck your employees in every night to make sure that they are getting to bed at a decent hour so what can you do?
- Pay attention for how your employees are acting. Talk to employees who are constantly yawning, looking lethargic, dragging and nodding off during the work day.
- Make sure that the lighting is adequate. Low lighting tends to accentuate the problem. Our bodies respond by slowing down in low light and waking up with increased light.
- Use the buddy system. Having two people work together helps both of them stay awake and alert.
- Break up the monotony of repetitive tasks. When the brain isn’t engaged the body tends to follow. Rotate personnel, switch up jobs, etc…
- Allow naps. A 10-15 minute nap has been shown to be very effective in helping the body recoup. Allow employees to combine breaks if they feel that they need a longer nap.
Finally, you need to sit down and have a talk with employees who continually come to work tired. Often, just knowing that their employer notices when they aren’t getting enough sleep, is enough to motivate some to change their habits. Many have no idea that they aren’t getting enough sleep, much less that others have noticed it. Let them know that it is affecting their ability to do their job properly and potentially a safety issue as well. A confrontation now could make a huge difference, not only in increased productivity, increased safety but also in increased long range health to the employee.