According to a new study, workers with sleep apnea are about twice as likely to be hurt on the job as their coworkers. This makes sleep apnea more likely to be associated with workplace accidents than general sleep problems, and is a very good reason why employers should encourage sleep apnea treatment among employees.
Linking Accidents and Apnea
To determine the link between sleep apnea and workplace accidents, researchers recruited more than 1200 patients with a median age of 49, 70% of whom were men. These men were sent to a sleep clinic, where they underwent a polysomnography, indicating that 80% of the patients had an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of 5 or greater, meaning they have some level of sleep apnea. Overall, the population had a median AHI of 15, or moderate sleep apnea.
They then looked at patients work records to determine which of them had experienced a workplace accident in the previous five years that resulted in at least one day off the job. They found that 111 individuals experienced at least one work injury.
Analyzing the workplace accidents and the sleep apnea data, they found that people with sleep apnea were 1.9 times more likely to have a workplace accident. And some types of accidents were even more likely. They were 2.4 times more likely to experience accidents related to a loss of vigilance, such as falls and motor vehicle accidents.
The significant connection remained when confounders were included in the calculation, such as age and alcohol use at work.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Is a Must for Safety
This study reminds us that in addition to numerous health dangers, sleep apnea poses a serious accident risk. People with sleep apnea experience daytime sleepiness that can lead them to lose focus on the task at hand, which leads to serious accidents.
Since accidents are expensive and can significantly harm productivity, it makes sense that employers should encourage their employees to get sleep apnea treatment they will actually use, such as oral appliances. This will lead to a reduced cost in terms of workplace accidents and injuries, as well as increased productivity. And if a company is managing its own health plan, the savings can be even more significant.
Whether you’re a worker or an employer who wants to learn more about sleep apnea and its treatment, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.