The workplace can be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. Each year, more than half a million workers will sustain moderate to severe injuries at work. That number equates to even more lost days at work, which means a loss of income and loss of quality of life. And a small percentage of those injuries can lead to death. Of course, if you have a sleep disorder that causes fatigue in the morning, you probably don’t want to be working with complicated, dangerous tools the next day. Now, a new study indicates that people with sleep apnea have a much greater likelihood of suffering from a workplace injury.
The study, which was conducted in Canada, took a look at 1,236 patients referred to the University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Disorder Center to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea. The researchers then compared the workplace injury claims of about 994 patients who were diagnosed with the sleep disorder with 242 patients that did not have sleep apnea. The claims in question were for injuries that resulted in only one day of absence from the job.
According to the study, the patients with untreated sleep apnea were twice as likely to get hurt at work, compared to those individuals without sleep apnea. To get down to brass tacks, about 10% of the subjects with sleep apnea filed an injury report and only 5.4% without sleep apnea filed the same injury reports. Moreover, 4.5% of workers with sleep apnea suffered from a “vigilance-related injury,” or an injury having to with being distracted or a vehicular crash due to driving. Only 1.7% of workers without sleep apnea suffered from the same type of injury.
To date, this is one of the largest studies connecting untreated sleep apnea and workplace injuries. While other studies only surveyed past reports, this study actually used advanced sleep apnea detection methods to determine a correlation. Indeed, if you have sleep apnea and have an occupation that requires the use of a dangerous tool, it is critical that you stick to your sleep apnea treatment, because you could be greatly increasing your chances of getting into an accident at work.
In the end, this study is not only a wakeup call for workers, it is also a wakeup call for employers. If you want to make sure your employees are safe and sound at work, it is critical that you implement sleep apnea screening methods. Workplace injuries result in loss of income for the employee, but it can also be expensive for the employer, especially if there are lawsuits involved and medical costs. It is better to implement this program now rather than to be sorry later, because the longer sleep apnea goes untreated, the greater the likelihood is of a major injury that could disrupt everything.