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Study reveals link between sleep apnea and worker safety

When you get up to go to work in the morning, you might need a caffeine boost or a little extra time to wake yourself up. This is not all that uncommon, but if you find that you are sleepy throughout the day most days, you could be suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes sufferers to repeatedly gasp or stop breathing during the night, which can upset their sleep cycle and lead to severe fatigue. While you may not think sleep apnea is a serious problem, a recent study shows that it can actually lead to an increased risk of being injured on the job.

According to the report, people with sleep apnea are three times more likely to get hurt in an accident caused by a failure to pay close attention. These accidents include falls, trips, burns and car crashes.

Unfortunately, 22 million people in the U.S. reportedly suffer from sleep apnea, and many people are unaware and undiagnosed.

Employers in certain industries may be wise to discuss conditions like sleep apnea with workers if they work in construction, drive a truck or work in a capacity where they operate heavy, powerful machinery on a regular basis. Workers in these positions could suffer catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident caused by fatigue and inattentiveness.

Even if fatigue may have contributed to a workplace injury, it does not necessarily preclude a person from seeking workers' compensation. However, it could present some complications if a worker was engaged in an activity he or she should not have been when drowsy. Discussing the situation and the options for pursuing benefits with an attorney can be crucial.

Source: Reuters, "People with sleep breathing issues more likely to get injured at work," Madeline Kennedy, March 24, 2016

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