In a world where the pace is forever quickening, the quantity and quality of our sleep is vital to our general health and wellbeing and our ability to stay alert, safe, and productive at work. Many occupational factors may interfere with sleep. Sleep disturbances can, in turn, endanger the health and safety of the worker. ASAC is focused on identifying the main factors that alter the quantity and quality of sleep and how this affects the wellbeing of workers. Sleep loss and sleep disruption is a common problem in the modern 24-hour society. Whether it be from inadequate sleep or untreated sleep disorders (or a combination of both), poor alertness has widespread effects on core brain functions: reaction time, decision-making, information processing and the ability to maintain attention.
The following information is from the report Asleep on the Job Report (sleephealthfoundation.org.au). In 2016-17, there were estimated to be 7.4 million Australian adults in total who did not regularly get the sleep they need. This lack of sleep, and therefore alertness, was estimated to result in 3,017 deaths in 2016-17. It is expected that more than one Australian will die every day (394 over the year) from falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle or from industrial accidents due to lack of sleep. The remaining mortality is due to sequelae such as heart diseases and diabetes.
The total cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was estimated to be $66.3 billion in 2016-17, comprising $26.2 billion in financial costs and $40.1 billion in the loss of wellbeing. This equates to approximately $8,968 per person affected in both financial and wellbeing costs.
The reduced performance, accidents and injuries caused by impaired alertness is, to a large extent, preventable. The Alertness CRC and Sleep Health Foundation have worked with a broad range of industry partners across a range of sectors to develop the latest technologies, systems and tools to improve sleep health and manage alertness in individuals and across organisations. WorkAlert is a product of the Alertness CRC. The WorkAlert® initiative is designed to engage organisations in the opportunities to implement changes and measure improvements in safety and productivity. It provides information of a range of relatively simple, science-driven approaches that can dramatically improve employee experience and the company’s bottom line.
Other key areas of interest for ASAC are health promotional elements in the workplace that will help to optimise sleep health and optimal overall wellbeing. While the negative health effects of sleep-deprivation in workers is well documented and well understood, it is more difficult to quantify the reduction in their wellbeing and their productivity. The latter is often overlooked, but it is a crucial element of health and safety at work as wellbeing has a direct impact on physical and mental health. There is also a significant relationship between wellbeing and general positive health indicators such as job satisfaction, work engagement and happiness and the quality of life, morbidity and productivity. Contact us to talk further about how we can help your organisation have healthier workers.