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5/21/2012 - Fatigue a significant issue in the workplace

Companies should work to manage employee fatigue.

A new report suggests a growing number of business owners are implementing fatigue management strategies for their workers in an effort to reduce their workers' compensation insurance costs.

The report, "Fatigue Risk Management in the Workplace," was conducted by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study's lead author, Steve Lerman, says more businesses are realizing the impact fatigue can have on their employees' performance and well-being.

"There is a growing recognition of the role of fatigue management in enhancing safety in the workplace," said Lerman. "Most of the attention to this issue has historically been focused on the transportation industries. However, the focus is now expanding to other industries."

Natalie Hartenbaum, former president of the ACOEM, noted that there's a difference between fatigue and sleepiness, saying that sleepiness involves not getting enough sleep, while fatigue relates to the body's response of mental or physical labor that's been done over a prolonged period of time without sufficient rest.

Hartenbaum said employers could help reduce the risks that come with exhaustion by putting more of a focus on fatigue education and making sure staff levels are adequate.

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