The cost of inadequate sleep among on-call workers in Australia: a workplace perspective

Vincent, Grace E., Kinchin, Irina, Ferguson, Sally A., and Jay, Sarah M. (2018) The cost of inadequate sleep among on-call workers in Australia: a workplace perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (3). 398.

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On-call or stand-by is becoming an increasingly prevalent form of work scheduling. However, on-call arrangements are typically utilised when workloads are low, for example at night, which can result in inadequate sleep. It is a matter of concern that on-call work is associated with an increased risk of workplace injury. This study sought to determine the economic cost of injury due to inadequate sleep in Australian on-call workers. The prevalence of inadequate sleep among on-call workers was determined using an online survey, and economic costs were estimated using a previously validated costing methodology. Two-thirds of the sample (66%) reported obtaining inadequate sleep on weekdays (work days) and over 80% reported inadequate sleep while on-call. The resulting cost of injury is estimated at $2.25 billion per year ($1.71–2.73 billion). This equates to $1222 per person per incident involving a short-term absence from work; $2.53 million per incident classified as full incapacity, and $1.78 million for each fatality. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to quantify the economic cost of workplace injury due to inadequate sleep in on-call workers. Well-rested employees are critical to safe and productive workplace operations. Therefore, it is in the interest of both employers and governments to prioritise and invest far more into the management of inadequate sleep in industries which utilise on-call work arrangements.

Item ID: 52792
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1660-4601
Keywords: sleep; cost; workplace; impact; stand-by
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This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Funders: Central Queensland University (CQU)
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2018 04:41
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420699 Public health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380108 Health economics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 50%
91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9102 Microeconomics > 910202 Human Capital Issues @ 50%
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