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Sleep-related occupational injuries and industrial accidents

“Self-reported disturbed sleep is a predictor of accidental death at work,” concluded a 2002 study of the association between sleep and fatal occupational accidents. Accidental death was nearly twice as likely in subjects who reported difficulty sleeping in the previous two weeks.

A prospective study of fatal occupational accidents -- relationship to sleeping difficulties and occupational factors. Akerstedt T, Fredlund P, Gillberg M, Jansson B. J Sleep Res. 2002 Mar;11(1):69-71.

Sleepiness surpasses alcohol and drugs as the greatest identifiable and preventable cause of accidents in all modes of transport. Industrial accidents associated with night work are common, perhaps the most famous being Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Bhopal.”

Health in a 24-h society. Rajaratnam SM, Arendt J. Lancet. 2001 Sep 22;358(9286):999-1005. Review.

Accidents related to sleepiness may result in criminal prosecution,” warns a study of the legal ramifications of sleep-related accidents. “Employers may be deemed liable for injuries of third parties caused by wrongful acts of employees committed in the course of their employment. In the future, it is likely that employers will need to take greater precautions to reduce sleepiness and fatigue in the workplace, especially where the risk to public and environmental safety, health and productivity are significant.”

Legal issues in accidents caused by sleepiness. Rajaratnam SM. J Hum Ergol (Tokyo). 2001 Dec;30(1-2):107-11.

“…Drowsy driving is an underestimated risk factor in official statistics, and as many as 15-30 percent of today's traffic accidents are related to drowsiness; thus it is an even greater risk factor than alcohol. Drowsy drivers suffer from inattention, impaired concentration and may even fall asleep at the wheel. Accidents during dozing result in three times as many fatalities as other accidents.

Drowsiness--greater traffic hazard than alcohol. Causes, risks and treatment. Haraldsson PO, Akerstedt T. Lakartidningen. 2001 Jun 20;98(25):3018-23. Review.

”The risk of involuntary sleep at work is increased in connection with disturbed sleep,” concludes a 2005 study. ”The prevalence for falling asleep unintentionally at least once a month was 7.0% during work hours and 23.1% during leisure time.”

Work organisation and unintentional sleep: results from the WOLF study. Akerstedt T, Knutsson A, Westerholm P, Theorell T, Alfredsson L, Kecklund G. Occup Environ Med. 2002 Sep;59(9):595-600.

“Poor nocturnal sleep habits are associated with self-reported occupational injury,” according to a Japanese study evaluating the contribution of daily sleep habits to on-the-job injuries. “Workers with sleep features of [difficulty initiating sleep], sleeping poorly at night, insufficient sleep, and insomnia had a significantly higher prevalence for injury after adjusting for multiple confounders.”

Sleep-related risk of occupational injuries in Japanese small and medium-scale enterprises. Nakata A, Ikeda T, Takahashi M, Haratani T, Fujioka Y, Fukui S, Swanson NG, Hojou M, Araki S. Ind Health. 2005 Jan;43(1):89-97.