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Many costly workplace accidents caused by insomnia, study shows

There is only so much that a cup of coffee, a caffeinated soda or even an energy drink can do. Philadelphia workers know that there is no better solution to tiredness than getting enough sleep. But work, family activities and social commitments can prevent us from recharging our batteries completely every night.

We all know that we are less focused, sharp and productive when we fail to get sufficient rest. New study data suggests, however, that a lack of sleep can also lead to dangerous and expensive workplace accidents. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that over 7 percent of on-the-job accidents were attributable to insomnia, while the condition was responsible for a staggering 23 percent of the financial losses caused by these accidents.

Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 33 percent of workers are not adequately rested. In total, the Harvard study concluded that there are roughly 274,000 workplace accidents each year related to insomnia. The total cost of these accidents exceeds an astounding $31 billion. Accidents linked to insomnia were found to be much more expensive on average than a typical workplace accident.

It was not immediately clear what was counted towards that figure, but researchers may have included workers' lost wages and the cost of medical treatment for workers' injuries. A workplace injury can deliver a doubly harmful financial blow to employees. Not only is additional money going out the door to pay hospital bills, but there is less money coming in while people recuperate away from work.

Source: CBS DC, "Study: Insomnia Costs Employers $32 Billion In Workplace Accidents," Oct. 10, 2012

• Workers' compensation can soften that blow by providing benefits that cover lost wages and medical costs. You can learn more by visiting our Bristol medical bills compensation page.

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