Falling asleep at the wheel is easier than you think

Fatigued workers could be micro-sleeping, and causing major accidents.

Scientists have indicated that fatigued drivers are capable of falling asleep behind the wheel for seconds at a time without evening knowing it. A few seconds might not seem like a long time, but in a fast moving vehicle or dangerous piece of equipment, it’s enough for something serious to happen.

ABC news put this study to the test in a recent experiment under supervision of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, where this phenomenon called ‘micro sleep’ is studied. Reporter, Ron Claiborne, deprived himself of sleep and then attempted to operate a vehicle. The results were both surprising and alarming – have a watch:



In the video, Ron admits to falling asleep ‘a couple of times’ and decides to end the experiment. Luckily for Ron, he was driving on a closed and supervised course because the experiment data actually showed that he had fallen asleep not twice, but twenty-two times. Workers in 24/7 operations aren’t usually supervised by a team of scientists while on the job, so what would falling asleep twenty-two times mean to someone operating heavy equipment or about to drive themselves home after finishing a long shift?



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In the same way that machines need regular maintenance to continue at peak capacity, a human workforce needs restful sleep to do their best work. However, fatigue from a lack of sleep contributes to more than just poor work. A worker experiencing fatigue in their workplace presents a risk to themselves and their colleagues. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the ways that fatigue contributes to risk in workplaces, and how the total costs of those risks add up. If you don’t already have a fatigue risk management strategy in place, by the time you finish reading you may be looking to implement one.
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