The Role of Fatigue in Construction Accident InjuriesAt Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, we offer legal guidance and support to clients who have sustained a workplace injury. Our workers’ compensation attorneys represent clients in Newark, Seaford, Wilmington and throughout Delaware.

The construction industry is fraught with safety hazards for workers, and it is one of the industries with the highest level of worker fatalities each year. Given the dangers construction workers face, adding worker fatigue into the mix can equate to disaster.

The National Safety Council (NSC) conducts extensive research in issues of workplace safety. The NSC reports that fatigue is a growing problem facing the workplace in general, and their research shows that 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue. In a three-part series on fatigue in the workplace, the 3rd part, Fatigue in Safety-Critical Industries: Impact, Risks and Recommendations, the NSC examines how fatigue impacts the construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities industries. The survey noted a significant gap between how employees and employers view fatigue and its impact on their safety. While 93% of all employers feel fatigue is a safety issue, only 72% of employees agree. This indicates that employees are not good judges of their own fatigue, that employers need to invest in fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) and empower employees to participate in sleep health programs.

The NSC study also found that every construction industry employee surveyed reported at least one risk factor for fatigue. Of those workers, 46% said they work during high-risk hours, and 77% said they have demanding jobs. In the construction industry, the survey revealed that 98% of employers and 75% of employee agree that fatigue is a safety issue, 65% of employees reported feeling tired at work and 61% admit to having fallen asleep at work. Employers reported that 94% feel the impact of fatigue, 71% experience productivity losses, and 45% experience safety incidents.

What are the causes of construction worker fatigue?

When a construction worker is tired, the already present hazards of their work become magnified and the risk of injury increases. There are several factors which can cause workers to be fatigued including:

  • Sleep disorders. Conditions such as sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea, chronic insomnia and other health conditions can hinder a person’s natural sleep cycle.
  • Stress. Both workplace stress and personal stress can raise a person’s anxiety levels which can make it difficult for a person to relax enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Working irregular shifts. Adjusting your sleep schedule for overnight shifts can be stressful on the body and prevent a worker from getting the sleep they need to be alert and do their job safely.

What options are available for construction workers injured on the job?

Construction workers in Delaware can file a workers’ compensation claim if they were injured on the job while performing their regular work tasks. The Delaware Industrial Accident Board administers the workers’ compensation program, which is funded by mandatory insurance policies for employers. An employee who gets hurt on the job, succumbs to an occupational disease, or who dies in a workplace accident can receive benefits. Injured workers receive a partial wage-replacement benefit, and medical care related to the workplace injury. Workers’ compensation provides other benefits such as vocational rehabilitation and lump sum payments for permanent loss of use injuries.

If a worker’s injuries were caused by defective equipment or because of the negligence of a third party (other than their employer) he or she may have grounds for a third-party personal injury lawsuit. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer form Silverman, McDonald & Friedman can advise you about your legal options after a workplace injury.

The skilled construction work injury attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman have offices in Newark, Seaford, Wilmington. Call us at 302.414.5553 or fill out our quick contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options for workers’ compensation.

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