OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

July 12, 2016

Ms. Tina Dorsette
240 Loon Lake Court
Roseville, California 95747

Dear Ms. Dorsette:

Thank you for your April 25, 2016, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning the effects of sleep deprivation from working night shifts.  Your letter has been referred to OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response.  We commend you in your efforts to raise awareness of this critical issue of occupational health and workplace safety, as well as public health.  Please be aware that OSHA is committed to protecting all workers who may be occupationally exposed to sleep deprivation.

OSHA has long been aware of the hazards of sleep deprivation from working night shifts and has addressed this serious issue in public forums.[1],[2]  OSHA has also issued citations to companies when they ignored the human factor of employee fatigue from excessive overtime.[3]

OSHA and our sister agency for research, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), have been addressing this problem for many years since it impacts workers in various industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, construction, maritime industries, and emergency response operations.  We have issued several guidance publications to raise awareness of this issue, which may be found on our website, www.osha.gov.

For example, see:

We continue to explore new methods to inform employers, workers, and the public about the potential hazards associated with worker fatigue.  Again, we appreciate your interest in occupational safety and health.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact our Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.

Sincerely,

 

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

 


[1] Michaels, David Dr. “Statement by US Department of Labor’s OSHA Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels, on long work hours, fatigue and worker safety.”  OSHA News Release, 2 Sept. 2010.

[2] Barab, Jordan.  “OSHA addresses workplace violence and fatigue at upcoming international conference on work stress and health.”  OSHA Trade News Release, 3 Nov. 2009.

[3] “U.S. Labor Department’s OSHA cites 50 safety violations, proposes $917,000 in fines against Bostik Inc. following Middleton, Mass., explosion.”  Region 1 News Release, 13 Sept. 2011.