Workplace Fatigue Is Nothing to Yawn At

June 24, 2019
Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik joined with state and national safety experts to highlight the serious dangers posed by fatigue in the workplace, a growing problem and a focus of National Safety Month.
"Workplace safety makes most of us understandably think about proper training, proper equipment and a safe work environment," said Kleinik, in observance of June as National Safety Month. "But a good night's sleep can be just as important as these other safety fundamentals. A tired worker can pose a serious risk to himself or herself as well as to coworkers."
Studies indicate 13% of workplace injuries are attributed to fatigue and 43% of American workers say they sometimes are too tired to function safely at their job. Fatigue is estimated to cost employers more than $136 billion annually in health-related lost productivity. It can also be deadly.
The U.S. Department of Labor data show that decreased alertness from worker fatigue was cited as a factor in some of the most tragic industrial disasters, including the 2005 Texas City BP oil refinery explosion, the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and even the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
Certain workers are more likely to suffer from workplace fatigue, especially those who work irregular or extended shifts, such as those in transportation, healthcare, police and fire fighters and others whose jobs require rotating shift work. But other factors, such as long commutes and simply not sleeping enough, can contribute to fatigue even for those with regular shifts.
Regardless the cause, workplace fatigue certainly increases the risk of injury and illness on the job. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, accident and injury rates are 18% greater during evening shifts and 30 percent greater during night shifts when compared to day shifts. Long shifts - 12-hour days - spike injury risk by almost 40%.
While there is no magic bullet cure for workplace fatigue, awareness of it as a serious issue is a major first step for both employers and employees to take. OSHA has recommendations that you can  to diminish the risk of workplace fatigue:
  • Examine staffing issues such as workload, work hours, understaffing and worker absences, scheduled and unscheduled, which can contribute to worker fatigue.
  • Arrange schedules to allow frequent opportunities for rest breaks and nighttime sleep.
  • Make adjustments to the work environment such as lighting, temperature and physical surroundings to increase alertness.
  • Provide worker education and training addressing the hazards of worker fatigue, the symptoms of worker fatigue, the impact of fatigue on health and relationships, adequate quality and quantity of sleep and the importance of diet, exercise and stress management strategies to minimize the adverse effects of fatigue.
Workers also need to take steps to reduce the risks posed by workplace fatigue. Seven hours of sleep should be the minimum goal. If you are not getting that, adjustments should be made to accommodate proper sleep. If a medical issue is involved, see your doctor as you would for any health concern. "A rested worker is a safer worker and makes for a safer work environment for everyone. It's easy to overlook something so basic as sleep but we do so at our own peril," said Kleinik.
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Smoke Sensors Sold with Fire Alarm Systems Recalled Because They Fail to Alert Consumers to Fire
Honeywell NOTIFIER has recalled FSP-951-IV Series Photoelectric Detectors that were manufactured between March 30, 2018 – January 14, 2019.  The date code range for these devices is 8034 through 9013.
When these models are used in conjunction with the NOTIFIER ONYX NFS-3030 and NFS2-3030 Fire Alarm Control Panels (FACP) operating in CLIP, they have the potential to not properly communicate a fire alarm condition in certain fire scenarios such as a fast, flaming fire.
According to the manufacturer, these devices must be immediately removed from service and replaced. Any inventory must be returned for credit. Technical questions should be directed to NOTIFIER Technical Support at 1-800-289-3473 or
Ohio Gratings Inc. Fined for Exposing Employees to Respiratory, Chemical, and Other Hazards
OSHA has cited Ohio Gratings Inc. – a manufacturer of aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon products based in Canton, Ohio – for exposing employees to respiratory, chemical, and other hazards. OSHA cited the company for 17 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations, and faces penalties of $183,748.
OSHA initiated a December 2018 inspection after receiving a formal complaint alleging poor ventilation, and lack of training on chemicals used at the facility. OSHA inspectors determined that the company operated a dip tank containing flammable liquid without using proper drainage, overflow piping, adequate ventilation, and fire protection. The Agency cited Ohio Gratings for failing to ensure employees used personal protective equipment, inadequate machine guarding, recordkeeping deficiencies, struck-by hazards, and exposing workers to flammable liquids.
"OSHA standards require employers to regularly conduct hazard analyses of the worksite, train workers to recognize hazards, and provide appropriate personal protective equipment to minimize exposure to materials that can cause long-term health issues," said OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts, in Cleveland, Ohio.
OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on controlling exposure to chemical hazards and toxic substances.
The company has contested the citations and penalties, it will now go before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Silgan Containers Cited After Employee Suffers Broken Arm When Caught in Machine
OSHA has cited Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. after an employee suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at its Napoleon, Ohio, facility. The company faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations.
OSHA’s investigation found the aluminum can manufacturer failed to lockout the machine that caused the employee’s injury. The Agency cited the company for its failure to train employees on energy control procedures, perform periodic inspections of energy control procedures, and guard the machine’s pinch point. OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, plant in 2015.
“Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberly Nelson in Toledo, Ohio.
Resources on lockout-tagout hazards can be found on OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy page and the interactive eTool.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Alabama Auto Parts Manufacturer and Staffing Agencies Cited for Exposing Employees to Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited automobile parts manufacturer Donghee Alabama LLC and two staffing agencies – J & C Enterprise LLC and Jian Enterprise LLC – for exposing employees to safety hazards at its facility in Auburn, Alabama. The companies collectively face $145,438 in penalties.
OSHA cited Donghee Alabama LLC for willfully exposing employees to caught-in and crushed-by hazards by requiring them to operate machines with non-functioning safety laser scanners. These scanners are designed to prevent employees from placing their bodies inside dangerous zones during the operating cycle. OSHA conducted the inspection in conjunction with the Regional Emphasis Program for Safety Hazards in Auto Parts Industry.
OSHA also cited the two staffing agencies that provided employees to work at the manufacturing facility, for exposing their workers to hazards from operating machines with non-functioning light curtains and laser safety scanners.
"Hazards associated with the auto parts manufacturing industry are a source of serious injuries and fatalities to workers," said OSHA Acting Area Director Jose Gonzalez, in Mobile, Alabama. "Employers are required by law to comply with lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards to protect workers who operate equipment."
See the citations for Donghee Alabama LLCJ & C Enterprise LLC, and Jian Enterprise LLC. Compliance assistance resources can be found on OSHA's Machine Guarding webpage and eTool .
Solar Panel Installer Cited for Willful Fall Protection Violation
Cal/OSHA has cited an Anaheim solar panel installation company $193,905 for multiple serious workplace safety hazards including one willful serious accident- related violation, following an investigation of a worker who was seriously injured after they fell from the roof of an Oakland home. Cal/OSHA determined that Nexus Energy Systems, Inc. did not provide required fall protection for their workers.
On December 6, three installers were working to install solar panels at the Oakland residence when one of the workers lost his footing and fell 15 feet onto the concrete driveway, suffering a broken wrist and jaw. None of the workers were wearing fall protection.
“Falls from roofs are often deadly, and that is why employers must protect their employees from fall hazards and provide effective training,” said Cal/OSHA Deputy Chief of Enforcement Debra Lee. “This employer was aware of these dangers and ignored its responsibility to address them.”
Cal/OSHA cited Nexus Energy Systems for five violations, three of which were related to the December accident. The violations include:
  • A willful serious accident-related violation as the employer failed to provide fall protection.
  • Two serious violations for the employer’s failure to provide training and ensure compliance with fall protection measures.
  • Two general violations for the employer’s failure to implement an effective heat illness protection plan and an injury and illness prevention program that identifies and corrects hazards specific to the worksite.
Cal/OSHA also cited the employer for two additional violations stemming from an incident that investigators learned had taken place the previous September, when a worker suffered electrical burns while connecting solar panels to an energized breaker box. Cal/OSHA noted one serious continuing violation for failing to provide insulated gloves or tools while working on energized equipment, and a general violation for the employer’s failure to investigate the industrial accident and take measures to correct safety hazards.
A violation is classified as serious when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation, and violations are classified as accident-related when the injury, illness or fatality is caused by the violation. A willful violation is cited when the employer is aware of the law and violates it nevertheless, or when the employer is aware of the hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.
All employers in California are required to have an effective written injury and illness prevention program, a safety program to identify, assess and control hazards in the workplace. Cal/OSHA has online tools and publications to guide you on how to establish an effective safety program. Cal/OSHA’s resources on fall protection include a safety and health factsheet, residential fall protection training and a construction safety pocket guide.
Dollar Tree Store Cited for Stacking, Storing Merchandise Unsafely
OSHA has cited national discount retailer Dollar Tree Store Inc. for exposing employees to safety hazards at its store on Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The company faces $104,192 in penalties.
OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to struck-by, trip, and fall hazards due to unstable merchandise stacked in excess of 7-feet high in the path of an emergency exit.
"Employers must not jeopardize the safety of their employees," said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond. "Potential workplace hazards must be assessed and eliminated to ensure a safe work environment."
Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Illness
As summer temperatures rise, Cal/OSHA recently urged all employers to protect outdoor workers from heat illness. California’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor workers, including those in agriculture, construction and landscaping. Other workers protected by the standard include those that spend a significant amount of time working outdoors such as security guards and groundskeepers, or in non-air conditioned vehicles such as transportation and delivery drivers.
It is important for employers to assess the risk of heat illness based on a worker’s duties and take appropriate steps to prevent them from getting sick. For example, the risk of heat illness is less for an installation worker who arrives in an air-conditioned vehicle and spends one hour working outdoors than for a driver who makes deliveries in a non- air conditioned vehicle. Regardless of the level of risk, all outdoor workers must be protected equally and employers with outdoor workers must maintain an effective heat illness prevention plan year-round.
Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:
  • Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures. 

  • Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention. 

  • Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
  • Shade – Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
Workers experiencing possible overheating must take a preventative cool- down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.
To prevent heat illness, it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death.
Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Detail on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.
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