Can Too Much Overtime Jeopardize Employee Safety? | Scott Goodwin Law

Can Too Much Overtime Jeopardize Employee Safety?

by / Wednesday, 15 February 2023 / Published in Workplace Woes
A tired looking nurse looks out of a window.

Sometimes, a person’s work day might be longer than expected. They might be asked to work some extra hours to help the company deal with a busy time or take on extra shifts because of staffing issues. While the bigger paychecks that come with working overtime can be nice to have, it’s important to remember that in some cases, getting enough rest is critical to helping people stay safe – both the employees themselves and others who might encounter the employee. 

Working overtime is perfectly legal and OSHA doesn’t have any regulations requiring things like a mandatory amount of time off between shifts for workers across the board. There are some cases where certain types of workers, such as pilots and commercial truck drivers, do have mandatory rest periods. But that doesn’t mean that working too much can’t cause problems in other types of industries. 

Putting in too much overtime becomes a problem when it results in worker fatigue. Feeling a bit tired at work when you work in an office is one thing. But when your job involves things like taking care of patients in a medical setting, operating a vehicle, or working with tools or equipment, it’s very easy for fatigue to lead to dangerous mistakes. 

Worker Fatigue Facts

According to the National Safety Council, approximately 13% of work injuries can be attributed to issues with sleep. They also report that workplace injury rates are highest among workers who typically sleep less than seven hours per night and work more than 40 hours per week, peaking among those who regularly sleep less than five hours per night and work more than 60 hours per week. Additionally, OSHA reports that worker accidents and injuries are 30% higher during night shifts when compared to day shifts. Other data cited by OSHA indicates that working 12 hours a day correlates to a 37% increased risk of injury.

Worker Fatigue & Safety

At one point or another, we’ve all had a day where it seems like doing routine things feels like an uphill battle because we didn’t have a good night of sleep. You might leave something at home that you needed to bring somewhere. You might make mistakes while doing something simple that you’ve done a hundred times before as part of your job. Or maybe there was something you meant to do, only to have it completely slip your mind. The exact same types of things can easily happen to people who are working in high risk environments and the consequences can be devastating. 

Let’s use a hospital as an example. If nurses are being pressured to work extra shifts because of understaffing, it can affect the safety of both workers and patients. An exhausted nurse is more likely to make a mistake with a patient’s medication or overlook an important direction from a doctor. Fatigued healthcare workers are also more likely to experience injuries like needlestick injuries or get into a car crash while driving home after a long shift. 

Construction sites are another place where fatigue can be a very dangerous issue. A fatigued construction worker could potentially forget to follow important safety procedures or have a difficult time focusing while working with a powerful piece of equipment. 

Contact a Michigan Workplace Injury Lawyer

There’s no hard and fast point where working overtime becomes too much. But it’s important for employers to be sure that putting in some extra hours doesn’t come at the expense of employee safety or the safety of others. If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t hesitate to contact a workplace injury lawyer for help. A lawyer will be able to help you understand your rights and can help make sure your claim for workers compensation benefits will be handled correctly from the very beginning. 

At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in helping the victims of workplace accidents in the state of Michigan. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.