The body, with its circadian rhythm, is naturally programmed to sleep at night, and all of the above factors can serve to disrupt this cycle, causing chronic fatigue as well as producing physical, mental and emotional stress. This is especially dangerous for workers because they may become inattentive and wind up harming themselves or others.
Compared to day shifts, evening shifts have 18% higher accident and injury rates. For night shifts, they are 30% greater. Twelve-hour shifts, in particular, raise the chances of an injury by 37%. The consequences of fatigue on a construction site are obvious: In hospitals and medical centers, fatigue can lead to needlestick injuries and medication or surgical errors. Fatigue-related inattentiveness contributed to the Challenger disaster, the Chernobyl incident and the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion.
Fatigued workers become increasingly less motivated, focused or capable of making good decisions. In the long term, fatigue can become connected to digestive problems, musculoskeletal disorders, depression, sleep disorders and heart disease. Breast cancer and prostate cancer become more likely, and preexisting conditions like diabetes and epilepsy worsen.
Under workers’ compensation law, employees who are injured on the job can receive benefits and be covered for all medical expenses. Wage replacement and, if applicable, disability leave are also included in the benefits. Of course, employers may deny payment by saying that victims were to blame for their own injuries, so it might be in a victim’s best interest to hire a lawyer. The lawyer may explain the ways in which victims may be able to receive compensation.