A study released earlier this year by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) revealed that many typical work injuries--including back, foot, neck, and knee injuries--can be traced directly to worker fatigue.

The study, entitled “Fatigue Risk Management in the Workplace,” found that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workforce suffers from fatigue (defined as exhaustion, decreased alertness, weariness, lack of energy, muscle weakness, and slowed movements).

The report suggested that fatigue--and specifically decreased alertness--can have several safety-related implications, as well as reducing decision making abilities. This can result in poor judgment and “loss of awareness in critical situations.”

According to JoAnn Boston, Business Development Manager for Crown Mats and Matting, these fatigue-related problems “cost U.S. employers more than $60 billion annually in medical expenses, workplace accidents, and decreased efficiency.”

To help reduce fatigue and the many problems it can cause, Boston suggests that employers identify fatigue-related risks and take steps to address them, educate workers about the problems associated with fatigue and encourage them to report any fatigue-related problems they might be experiencing, thoroughly investigate fatigue-related injuries in order to prevent them in the future, and install anti-fatigue mats wherever workers must stand for long periods of time.

“This last item has proven to be very successful in work situations where people must stand while they work,” says Boston. “Anti-fatigue mats encourage muscle movement in the lower limbs, helping to stimulate blood flow and reduce fatigue.”