Americans have long had an unhealthy cultural attitude about sleep, equating it with laziness or being willing to forego sleep in the name of productivity. But research in recent years has clearly proven what many of us have observed throughout our lifetimes: that sleep is critical to just about every aspect of our waking hours.
Sleep is especially important for individuals who work dangerous jobs that require focus and the ability to react quickly to emergencies. Here in Texas, a notable example would be oil rig workers – both onshore and offshore. Because of the long shifts and stretches of consecutive days that these workers are subjected to, fatigue is a significant problem. And it has caused or contributed to some high-profile accidents and disasters in recent years.
Earlier this year, researchers at Texas A&M announced a plan to carefully monitor oil rig worker fatigue as a means of improving workplace safety. The study participants will be given wearable devices that measure a worker’s amount of sleep and quality of sleep. Workers will also have access to a digital dashboard that allows them to self-report information that could help assess their attitudes about, and commitment to, workplace safety.
The end goal, researchers say, is to give this information to frontline supervisors to help them make informed staffing choices (and real-time changes, when necessary).
Offshore oil rig workers often work 20 consecutive days without a break. Given the physical and mental demands of the job, few people could handle that kind of schedule without some level of fatigue. Hopefully, this study will help detect fatigue before it leads to a serious accident.
Have you suffered injuries as an offshore oil rig worker or other maritime worker? Is so, you may be eligible for compensation. To learn more about your rights and legal options, feel free to visit our offshore injuries page.