Keep Sleep Apnea from Costing You
Continually cited as a leading cause of fatal accidents involving CMVs, driver fatigue is a significant problem in the commercial trucking industry. While regulations are in place to ensure drivers are receiving the proper amount of rest time, they are not always able to control the quality of sleep drivers are getting.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping. It is estimated to affect 3 out of every 10 commercial drivers, disturbing sleep quality and leading to an increase in drowsiness and fatigue. Because of its side effects, the disorder increases the chance that a driver will be involved in an accident. If you employ drivers suffering from the condition, you could be held liable for damages in the event that an accident is linked to fatigue caused by sleep apnea.
It has been noted that sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, could be severe enough to impair performance and make a driver unfit for work. This has opened the door for litigation against carriers who allow drivers suffering from sleep apnea to remain on duty. Whether or not you know about a driver’s condition, you could be held liable if it is found that the side effects of his or her sleep apnea caused an accident.
Reduce Liability, Decrease Health Costs
In the event of an accident, you could not only be liable for the damages of other parties involved, but you may also have a financial duty to the driver if he or she is injured. Add potential lost time and damaged cargo, and a single accident could end up being extremely costly to your organization.
It’s easy to see how quickly an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea could affect your company’s bottom line. Even if it is not required by the law, requiring sleep apnea screenings for new and existing employees can help you reduce the hazards caused by fatigued divers, along with the potential costs they can incur.
Training and Treatment
Being diagnosed with sleep apnea does not have to automatically disqualify a driver from service. Many times sleep apnea is brought on by other health issues, such as obesity, and can be managed through lifestyle changes. There are also mechanical controls, such as the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which can be used to assist airflow during sleep.
It is important that you offer help and support to suffering drivers so they are willing to come forward for treatment. In addition to educating drivers on the danger of sleep apnea, teach them the signs and symptoms of the disorder so they can play a role in prevention by monitoring themselves.