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Study shows fatigue in the workplace costs employers $136 billion

According to a study in the January 2007 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, nearly 40% of U.S. employees experience fatigue, a problem that carries billions of dollars in costs of lost productivity and lost time. With adjustment for other factors, fatigue was found to be more common in women than men, in workers less than 50 years of age, and in white workers compared with African-Americans. Workers with decision-making responsibilities and relatively high paid jobs reported higher rates of fatigue.

The study examined the effects of fatigue on health-related lost productivity time as well as absenteeism. For U.S. employers fatigue carried overall estimated costs of more than $136 billion per year in health-related lost productivity - $101 billion more than for workers without fatigue.

"Interventions targeting workers with fatigue, particularly women, could have a marked positive effect on the quality of life and productivity of affected workers,” the researchers conclude. They suggest that companies could offer “work-life” programs to help employees balance their work and personal responsibilities and take steps to improve assessment and treatment of workers who have fatigue along with other health conditions.