Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace

No matter what you do for a living or where you work, there is one thing that all employees need and that is sleep.

In fact, science shows that people need at least nine hours a night every night. Unfortunately, that can be difficult for people in certain occupations.

Recently the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference created a platform for CP Rail employees to self-report if they have been “intimidated into reporting to work fatigued.”

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Conductors and engineers at CP work on an on-call basis without set shift schedules or length, meaning they can be driving a train on little to no rest.

There have been examples of interns working on almost no sleep ending tragically. Just a few years ago in Alberta, Andy Ferguson drove into head on traffic after working 16 hours in a row as an intern at a radio station.

No workplace should allow this to happen,

According to studies, if you get less than seven hours of sleep a night it will impair your cognitive abilities. This could cause mental distress, lack of focus and overall decrease in productivity. Physically, it can negatively affect your health by creating a higher risk of obesity, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. These risks are even more heightened for women.

It is not only important for employees to be aware of how much sleep they are getting, but employers as well. According to research institute Rand Europe, in the US, sleep deprivation causes the loss of about 1.2m working days every year resulting in financial losses of up to $411bn a year.

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No one should have to work to the point of sleep deprivation, and having a union to back you up can help. Being a union member means you can have more stable hours and you can talk to a shop steward or business agent if you feel your work situation is unsafe at any time.

All workers should be able to get an adequate amount of rest before going to work for their own safety and those around them.