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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer warns of the health risk of shift work

James Christopher MunleyThe National Sleep Foundation defines as shift worker as anyone who follows a work schedule outside of the typical 9 to 5 business day. Millions of Americans are considered shift workers, including doctors and nurses, pilots, police officers, customer service reps and commercial drivers among others.

According to WebMD, there are about 8.6 million people performing shift work in the U.S., either through rotating shifts during the week, or working a night job. WebMD quoted a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School as saying that there is strong evidence that shift work is related to a number of serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Shift work has also been linked to ulcers and other stomach problems, as well as depression and an increased risk of accidents or injury.

One of the most serious problems shift workers face is frequent sleep disturbance that results in excessive sleepiness and fatigue. This can lead to serious accidents and injuries in the workplace. According to The National Sleep Foundation, some of the most notorious of modern catastrophes, such as the failure of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the crash of the Exxon Valdez have been attributed to human fatigue. According to a CBS News report, a recent poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that one in five pilots make a serious error at work because they are tired. Sleep deprivation and fatigue are dangerous in so many industries, including trucking. We have all heard about the sleep deprived condition of the trucker that led to the tragic truck accident this summer that fatally injured one, and left comedian Tracy Morgan and others in critical condition.

An article in The Ergonomics Open Journal from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that the risk of occupational injury was 41% higher for 10-hour working days compared to 8-hour working days. They also found that those working more than 12-hour days showed a 98% increase in involvement in occupational injury. The results of the study showed that shift work considerably increased the risk of occupational injury in the U.S.

Many industries, including health care, airline and trucking have all responded to this high rate of accidents by reducing mandatory work hours and placing limitations on the number of consecutive hours worked. However, we still see a high rate of injuries as a result of fatigued workers.

Here are a few tips for shift workers from the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys:
• Maintain a healthy diet. Many shift workers suffer from obesity, so eating regularly scheduled, healthy meals, will help you stay at a healthy weight.
• Get enough exercise. This will help you sleep better and also maintain your weight.
• Get enough sleep. It may help to keep to the same sleep/wake schedule, even when you are not working. If you need to sleep during the day, eliminate light and noise from your sleep environment, using shades and even eye masks and earplugs.
• Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime, they will often disrupt and delay sleep.
• Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. It may seem to improve sleep initially, but will eventually disturb sleep.

If you have been injured on the job, call the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. We are dedicated to helping injured employees obtain the full worker’s compensation benefit to which they are entitled. Call today for a free consultation at 855-866-5529

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