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Workers with sleep apnea more likely to be injured on job

Workers who suffer from sleep apnea could be more prone to being injured on the job, according to a study by researchers in British Columbia. As a result of their findings, they believe workers in high-risk jobs in New York and elsewhere should be tested for the sleep disorder as a safety precaution.

People with sleep apnea wake from sleep repeatedly as they gasp for breath or snore due to a blockage of their airway, often leaving them feeling fatigued during the day. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, around 22 million Americans have the disorder, but the majority are unaware of it.

Researchers studied the workplace injury rates of 1,236 people who were screened for sleep apnea at a British Columbia sleep clinic between 2003 and 2011. Of those screened, 994 were diagnosed with sleep apnea and 242 were not. Work records showed that 111, or 9 percent, of the overall group had been injured on the job in the preceding five years. Those who were diagnosed with the disorder were nearly twice as prone to being injured on the job as those who did not have it.

People who are injured in workplace accidents often require extensive medical care and treatment, and many are unable to return to work for prolonged periods of time. Most employers are required to have workers' compensation coverage, and filing a claim for benefits could provide injured workers with some relief. As the process is time-sensitive, many claimants obtain the assistance of an attorney to help ensure that the claim is complete and filed on a timely basis.

Source: Reuters, "People with sleep breathing issues more likely to get injured at work," Madeline Kennedy, May 24, 2016

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