Safety Share: Sleep

by Koretta Vault

Experts agree that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, yet approximately 35 percent of working adults do not get enough sleep. Fatigued workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in accidents.

  • Brain-imaging studies show that sleep deprivation activates areas associated with risky decision-making, while areas that control rational thinking are suppressed. Sleep-deprived workers may be making riskier decisions, ignoring the potential negative implications and taking gambles in scenarios in which the losses outweigh the benefits.

  • Sleep deprivation can hinder the ability to work safely by significantly reducing reaction time, motor control, decision-making and situational awareness. Research shows that 10 days of six hours of sleep a night was all it takes to become as impaired in performance as going without sleep for 24 hours straight.

  • Sleep deprivation also causes increased microsleep episodes. During microsleep, your brain becomes
    blind to the outside world and your decisive control of motor actions will momentarily cease.

    To combat sleep deprivation, we need to change our mindsets about the importance of the quantity and quality of sleep we need. In other words, sleep needs to be a high priority and essential actions need to be taken to treat it as such.

This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Mining Engineering magazine.