Regardless of whether you work in a mine, on a construction site or driving a big rig, fatigue can be deadly. If you do not get sufficient rest, the risk of being involved in a workplace accident increases significantly. The U.S. Departments of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration looks after employee safety nationwide, including Alabama. The agency prescribes safety standards and provides overtime guidelines.
Although the Fair Standards Labor Act prescribes 40-hour workweeks for most industries, there is no legal limit for the number of overtime hours you may work. However, OSHA warns that too much overtime makes workers significantly more vulnerable to occupational injuries.
Truck drivers' hours
OSHA's regulation over truck operators ends when they leave the loading and docking facilities and fuel stations. Any time on the road is under the control of the U.S. Department of Transportation. If you haul cargo from Jasper, Alabama, to destinations across the country, you must comply with mandated driving hours and rest periods.
Hazards posed by prolonged work hours
Regardless of your occupation, the following bits of information might convince you to avoid working too many extra hours:
- Symptoms of exhaustion and fatigue: When you feel weary, irritable, sleepy, depressed or unmotivated, and experience frequent illness, headaches and giddiness, you can be sure it is the result of insufficient rest. Next, you might become less alert and develop cognitive problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, chest pain, and periods of extreme anxiety and tension.
- Potential hazards: The longer you continue working in a fatigued state, the higher the risk of making errors that can lead to accidents and injuries. According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, excessive overtime can even cause you to make medication errors, which will put you at an even higher risk.
- Precautions you can take: When you work overtime, it is always a good idea to take additional rest breaks, and also to make sure you follow a healthy diet. If at all possible, you could spread the overtime hours over several days instead of trying to get it all done in one or two days, to reduce the risk of fatigue-related injuries or illnesses.
Who will have your back if you suffer injuries?
Fortunately, the Alabama workers' compensation insurance system will have your back if you fall victim to any workplace injury. Furthermore, you need not be concerned about your lack of familiarity with the benefits you can expect and the claims process. An attorney who has experience in assisting injured workers with getting compensation to cover their medical expenses and lost wages can help. If your injuries are severe enough to cause permanent disability, you might receive additional benefits, such as vocational training or long-term benefits.