Can I Get Compensation for Fatigue-Related Injuries?
Most employees have heard of workers’ compensation for work-related injuries such as back strains, broken bones, burns, or exposure to toxic substances. What most workers aren’t aware of is the possibility of recovering compensation for fatigue-related injuries. Worker fatigue is a serious issue that can increase the risk of illness and injuries. Explore the opportunity for benefits for fatigue-related health problems through Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system or a personal injury lawsuit.
How Fatigue Affects Worker Safety and Health
When workers sleep too little or have interrupted sleep over a long period of time, it can cause fatigue. Fatigue can affect every aspect of life, from physical fitness to mental health. The body operates on a sleep/wake cycle that requires a rest period to prevent adverse effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. The body naturally craves sleep during the nighttime hours. Demanding or unusual work schedules can interrupt the circadian rhythm sleep cycle and lead to fatigue and related harms. Symptoms of fatigue can include:
- Increase stress
- Lack of concentration
- Lost productivity
- Lack of alertness
- Depression and anxiety
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Stomach/digestive disorders
- Poor eating habits and obesity
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that working long shifts of 12 hours per day increases the risk of injury by 37%. Fatigue has contributed to monumental workplace accidents throughout history, including the 2005 BP oil refinery explosion in Texas City, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Depending on the industry, worker fatigue can result in car accidents, errors in patient care, and increased exposure to hazardous substances. The effects on workers can range from worsening of chronic diseases to health problems like prostate cancer.
Seeking Compensation for Work-Related Fatigue
If you suffer from job-related fatigue or associated injuries or illnesses, consider pursuing compensation through the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation System. Your injury could qualify for benefits without requiring you to prove negligence. If your employer or another party was negligent in some way that caused your fatigue, such as pressuring you to take on extra shifts, consider instead filing a civil claim. A negligence claim could end in greater compensation, including payment for your full lost wages instead of the two-thirds that workers’ compensation pays out.
Proving an employer’s negligence could take an investigation into how he or she runs your workplace. If there are broken laws or violations, such as a trucking company forcing its employees to drive past the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours of service rules, the employer could be guilty of negligence per se, or negligence without needing any further proof. Otherwise, it could take a team of investigators to find evidence of the employer’s negligence.
Another way to prove negligence is to hire a professional with a similar job position as the employer. If the professional testifies that a reasonable and prudent person would have done something to prevent worker fatigue, the courts might rule that the employer is guilty of negligence, and therefore liable for injuries or illnesses. An experienced attorney can help workers fight for compensation for fatigue and related injuries/illnesses in Mankato.