Sleep Apnea & Job Performance
Sleep deprivation is common in both individuals with sleep disorders and those that work shift work. In many cases, individuals working shift work also have very demanding jobs requiring absolute accuracy. A well respected local Sleep Specialist, Dr. Harvey Moldofsky, testified in Court that a nurse that mistakenly injected an 11 month–old infant with two fatal doses of morphine, may have had impaired judgment, due to her constantly changing sleep schedule. Dr. Moldofsky said that he felt it was his “civil responsibility” to share his knowledge about the affect shift work has on an individual’s ability to perform their job. Sleep Apnea can be easily treated through a variety of therapies; so, there is no reason to live with Sleep Deprivation.
Driving & Sleep Apnea
A Stanford University study found that 78% of 159 commercial truckers tested suffered from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is three times higher than in the general population. The National Sleep Foundation has identified commercial truck drivers among its top five groups of people at risk of falling asleep while driving. With regards to Truck accidents citing sleepiness, fatigue was a primary cause in 31 percent of accidents studied in which the trucker died.
Another study investigated 107 single-vehicle accidents in which the driver survived and discovered that 58% were related to fatigue-with 18% of the drivers admitting they had fallen completely asleep. The drivers in this sample had obtained only 5.5 hours of sleep during their preceding sleep periods: 2.5 hours less than the average reported by truckers with non-fatigue related accidents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that up to 200,000 motor vehicle accidents per year may be sleep-related. One of every five drivers admits to having fallen asleep at least once behind the wheel, and 69% of motorists report drowsiness while driving. Various studies have associated OSA with up to a 12-fold increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents. A British study showed that 93% of sleep apneics were at fault in one or more accidents. The significance of these figures is increased by the fact that truck drivers have the highest on-the-job mortality rate of any profession! Sleep Apnea and Driving SIMPLY DON’T MIX!
Sleep Apnea and the Workplace
Sleep Deprivation impacts all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. It impacts on ones disposition, relationships, alertness, attentiveness, productivity and overall health status.
Two decades ago, a National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research submitted to the US Congress found that 40 million Americans were chronically ill with various Sleep Disorders and estimated the cost of sleep related workplace productivity to be $150 Billion yearly. Yet, very few organizations took the time to practice “Sleep Disorders Risk Management”. Twenty years later not much has changed.
All Safety Officers should be well versed with the impact of untreated Sleep Disorders on their organization. Screening one’s work force for potential Sleep Disorders can be easily accomplished through the use of questionnaires. Individuals with potential Sleep Disorders can be referred to a Sleep Specialist to determine the severity and type of disorder. Treatment may be as simple as discussing Sleep Hygiene, or prescribing medication, surgery or other appropriate therapies. We are very fortunate that in Ontario, these visits are covered by OHIP, as a result, there is no reason that any organization should have a Sleep Deprived, Accident Prone Workforce.
John Viviano B.Sc. DDS Diplomate ABDSM; obtained his credentials from U of T in 1983, he provides conservative therapy for snoring and sleep apnea in his Clinic Limited to the Management of Breathing Related Sleep Disorders. A member of various sleep organizations, he is a Credentialed Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and has lectured internationally regarding management of Sleep-Disordered Breathing and the use of Acoustic Reflection. Dr Viviano has also conducted original research, authored articles and established protocols on the use of Acoustic Reflection for assessing the Upper Airway and its Normalization.