Sleep Deprivation and Maritime Injuries

The Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Maritime Injuries

Sleep deprivation is unpleasant, even in the best-case scenario. When you’re working a maritime job, that’s far from the best-case scenario. The work you do and the decisions you make can literally be life-or-death. Unfortunately, maritime workers are often plagued by fatigue. This is partially because of the nature of maritime work and partially because of vessel owners and project managers that rely on low staffing levels to save money.

Wondering how fatigue could impact your chances of being involved in a workplace accident? Keep reading. To discuss your maritime injury in greater detail, call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 to set up a consultation.

Maritime Workers’ Sleep Schedules

The nature of maritime work means that workers are often left sleep deprived. Unlike office jobs that let everyone go home at 5:00, keeping a vessel running means that people have to be working around the clock.

It’s contrary to a human’s natural sleep schedule to work late at night, but unless someone works those shifts, a vessel can easily stop functioning or crash. On top of that, many vessels require workers to rotate their shifts on a regular basis. This ensures that everyone stays well-versed in every aspect of their job and that mistakes don’t go unnoticed. Frequently changing your sleep schedule is disastrous to your health and sleep hygiene.

So, we’re starting from a point where maritime workers are naturally more predisposed to fatigue. Then you add in the environmental factors. Maritime work is notoriously noisy, and the vibrations of a ship are often so loud that they cause permanent hearing loss.

Trying to get quality sleep in that environment is an uphill battle, and most maritime employees are both deprived of enough sleep and of quality sleep. This problem is even more pronounced for those who work on-call positions, as they may only get an hour or two of sleep before they are called in.

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Work

Sleep deprivation undoubtedly has a negative effect on your work speed and quality. This fact is so widely known that some experts claim that the Navy is changing its culture around sleep in an effort to minimize injuries and improve the quality of life for maritime workers.

Fatigue can impact your work in a number of ways. First, fatigue makes you move slower. One of the most common experiences sleep-deprived people talk about is feeling like you’re moving in slow motion. This is obviously unacceptable when you’re in the maritime industry, where any delay can mean unnecessary money spent or accidents caused.

Next, fatigue can slow down your reaction time. People who are short on sleep take several seconds longer to respond to stimulation than those who are well-rested. Consider what this means in the context of different maritime jobs and how a few-second delay could affect different tasks.

Finally, sleep deprivation actually affects your ability to make good decisions. Those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation struggle both to make choices in a timely manner and to make choices that are rooted in evidence and reason.

While these issues can arise at any point when a fatigued person is awake and working, there is one time period that puts you at particular risk: the first 30 minutes after you wake up. This is when you are subject to sleep inertia, the feeling of grogginess you experience for a short time after waking. In this state, people are less likely to make good choices and may take unnecessary risks.

Sleep Deprivation and Injuries

What does this mean for you? It means that you don’t necessarily have to be sleep deprived to be injured at work; you just need to be working with someone who is sleep deprived. One person’s wrong decision or unnecessary delay could cause a preventable accident that puts everyone aboard at risk.

Hurt at Work? Call the Maritime Injury Lawyers at Fuquay Law Firm

If you’ve suffered a maritime injury, you may be entitled to compensation under maritime law. If you’re unsure how to assert your rights and get what you’re owed, let us help. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 or reach out online.

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